Too real is the time when your “house” becomes your “parents’ house”, “college” becomes your “alma mater”, and soon enough, “friends” become “contacts.” When you put it that way, it sounds so robotic, doesn’t it? Perhaps the professional world can seem that way at times, but the way you go about it doesn’t have to be.
If you, like my mom, my sister, and myself, had the unique experience of joining a sorority in college, you’re in luck: you’ve got a network built-in for you. You’ve probably heard this over and over during rush, sisterhood events, and any time
you explain to someone why they too should join in on the Greek life fun. “You’ve instantly received a ton of connections just by being in your organization,” I’ve said on various occasions. “You never know who will know someone else…or who you might find that is a sister.” It’s true! Moreover, one of the many benefits of joining a large-scale social club is that it lends itself to accumulating talented people with varied backgrounds and interests, so there is always an abundance of opportunities.
Being in a sorority myself, I decided to create a survey that I then put out into the virtual universe, asking sorority alums to respond, stating how they stay involved with their sorority post-graduation, and in what ways they use their sorority network.
The Choice to Stay Involved
The first step of sorority networking might be to find a way to maintain your connections after college. From my own survey, I found that 100% of participants continued to receive organization publications such as newsletters and magazines. These publications are usually free and sent fairly frequently, so you can keep up with your chapter, as well as other chapters across the U.S. (or the globe if you’re international—my sorority actually extends to Canada).
This is an excellent way to:
- Get Inspired! Stay abreast of what other women are doing.
- Get Advice! Find people you’d consider asking for Career Advice.
- Get Motivated! Notice the ways in which others have achieved cool things—perhaps their method will work for you.
Search social networks for connections in the area
Of course, one of the most challenging parts of finding a New Job – starting a new anything (really) – is the potential of moving. As if the financial aspects and the homesickness (anyone else? just me? Bueller?) weren’t enough, there’s also finding new friends, new places to hang out and drink after work, and even finding a new place to live. So why not search for people you already know in your new environment? You can even check around Facebook or sorority directories to find sisters from other chapters that might just be willing to show someone around.
Almost 64% of survey participants noted that their sorority network helped them feel more comfortable in a new city or area. 81.8% noted that their sisters helped them make a new friend. Some participants even met their significant others through their sisters.
“When I moved out of state and knew no one, having an alum club close to me helped me to get away and remember why I had joined my organization in the first place,” said Amanda Heywood (Pi Beta Phi), having graduated in 2011. “Everyone was welcoming, and since we all shared the same values, I knew that I could be lifelong friends with the women I met!”
Link Up With Your Sisters
LinkedIn is a fantastic tool not only for networking with people that you don’t know, but perhaps more importantly, finding connections between you and those that you do know. Dan Klamm, the Outreach and Marketing Coordinator for Syracuse University’s Career Services, suggests joining your organization’s LinkedIn group:
“Your organization’s LinkedIn group is a place to share news, start discussions, and meet other members. Some fraternities and sororities have 7,000+ members in their LinkedIn groups. With LinkedIn's demographics skewing toward the 35+ crowd, joining a group like this will put you in contact with a number of well-established, mid-career professionals with many connections of their own.”
Klamm also suggests actively participating on discussion threads to make the most out of this method.
Ask Not What Your Sorority Can Do For You
One of the biggest benefits of being a part of this network is helping one another. That’s right: you can also participate. Throw your expertise out there; see if there’s a sister that you can help. Your good deeds might lead people to their careers (and perhaps they’ll decide to help you out in return). If you are a higher-up in a company, give some advice to the entry-level employee that’s busting her butt getting coffee, by posting to the alumni group.
One anonymous recent grad said the following (which gave me SO MUCH HOPE):
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“I got my first job from a sister! She reached out to my chapter president about an opening at the company she worked for, so the president put us in touch. The girl even gave me interview and salary negotiation advice. I landed the job and we've been coworkers for the last year!”
If that doesn’t sell you, I don’t know what will. Help your sisters out, let them help you, and don’t be afraid to reach out. You don’t join a Greek organization just for college; you do it to establish enduring, meaningful connections. Remember: your sisters want to help you succeed.
If all else fails…
In the end, it’s all about what you can learn from your sisters, and from your organization. Sure, you want to network, but the professional gain is not the only thing you can glean from your alum status.
“In an interview I was asked what values I carried,” said Pi Beta Phi alum, Stephanie Martinez. “From my experience in my sorority it was easy for me to answer this question. I was able to explain my values and also to demonstrate them. From my sorority I learned how to have integrity among many other things. For that, I am highly thankful.”
So when you need it, use your sorority to make your life a little easier; when you need a tour guide, a mentor, or a friend. Don't hesitate to reach out; they are your sisters after all.
Experience.com, survey results
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