Most advisors know the degree of connection with your college alumni association can lead to business. There are other ways those previous years getting your education can open doors. Let us look at a few that are not as obvious.

1. Your alumni relationship is not limited to college. Most people associate “college” with the institution where they earned their bachelor’s degree. You have a connection with your high school and possibly with another university if you earned your graduate degree elsewhere. In smaller towns, “Where did you attend high school” is a test to determine if you are a local. It is understood people “go away” for college, but many “return home” to establish their careers in the local area.

2. Your school often speaks to your intelligence. Ivy League schools have a reputation that precedes them. Everyone has heard about Harvard Business School in connection with MBAs. Stamford and Yale are considered excellent schools for law. MIT and Cal Tech are considered excellent engineering schools. If you graduated from a prestigious school, it delivers the unspoken message you must have great aptitude in order to get accepted.

3. Getting people to take your call. You cannot use your alumni directory for prospecting, but you know who your fellow college alumni are in the local area. You want a reason for the screener to put your call through or at least get you announced. “We were in the same graduating class” or “We attended (school) together” establishes a connection.

4. Donations and introductions. Once you step off the stage with your degree in hand, the donor cultivation process starts. Your college thinks of you as a qualified prospect as both an immediate donor and a candidate for gifts made through estate planning. Once you start giving in higher tier categories, you should start getting invitations to higher tier events. You will get to know the staff at the Office of Advancement very well. If you ask for certain introductions to fellow, high profile alumni, they may be able to help.

5. Fundraising for your college. If you get involved as an active alumni, you might be recruited to raise money for your college. This might be for your class anniversary gift, which takes place on anniversaries ending in “0” or “5”. Although plenty of this is done by surface mail and e-mail, larger gifts are often done face to face. This in person approach can put you in front of wealthy alumni, which helps you make your initial connection.

6. The local alumni club. If you live in a major city, your college may have a local chapter that meets periodically, providing graduates with the opportunity to socialize. The school might use the club as a platform for fundraising. Attending regularly provides an opportunity to get to know local alumni in the area.

7. Starting an alumni club. Your city might not have an alumni club. You could approach the college alumni office with the idea of starting one. This provides the opportunity to contact all local graduates. You can determine the strategy and degree of contact. You might want to meet high profile local graduates face to face to explain the concept personally. After the first meeting or two, you might want to meet again to get their feedback.

8. Private club reciprocal membership. Some private clubs extend membership benefits to graduates from other schools. One example is the Penn Club in New York City. Although founded for graduates of the University of Pennsylvania, the club has affiliate relationships with nine other universities (1). Your college might not have a brick-and-mortar clubhouse, but it might have an affiliate relationship. Your alumni office should be able to tell you more.

9. Following school sports. College sports attracts a large audience. Beaver Stadium at Penn State holds over 106,000 spectators. The enrollment at Penn State is about 88,000 students. Following college sports brings alumni together.

10. Continuing education. This has nothing to do with college. Advisors are often out of the office for continuing education programs. When you find yourself in this situation, you need at catch up when you return to the office. Some advisors say: “They made me attend this class.” One California advisor explained: “I was away from the office studying for an additional professional certification.” Clients can identify. They might ask you for more details. You can explain how it benefits them.

Playing “the alumni card” can open doors and lead to business.


Bryce Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. He provides HNW client acquisition training for the financial services industry. His book, “Captivating the Wealthy Investor” is available on Amazon.