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How to Leverage Your Black Fraternity/Sorority Network When Making a Career Transition

Our organizations are great for so many things; brotherhood/sisterhood, community service, social action, and stepping, are just a few. However, we often underutilize one of the greatest resources our organizations provide: A rich network of successful professionals.

According to Forbes, 80% of today’s jobs are found through networking. What better place to network than within not only our respective organizations, but the NPHC at large? I know you’re probably thinking, well I’ve been in this organization for __ years and not one job has come from it. To keep it real, that’s because you are ‘Greek-ing’ wrong. Our organizations have successful people in every industry you could image, so rock with me as I layout the blueprint on how to leverage your Black greek affiliation.

First, identify graduate members in the field you’re trying to go into.

There are a couple of ways to do this, but I’d suggest you start by scoping out what type of talent the graduate chapters in your area contain. You can also network at regionals, conclave, or boule to get closer to the people in your area of interest. Lastly, LinkedIn is going to be your best friend here (assuming people list their greek affiliation in their profile). LinkedIn will allow you to not only see them and their work but also to connect with them which will be essential in the next step.

Next, you’ll want to reach out to these folks to request an informational interview. If you don’t know what an informational interview is, it’s basically a casual conversation with a professional where you can get advice on your career, the industry, and most importantly the type of role you’re seeking to get into. This allows you to get to know more about their field, the company they work for, and most importantly, that person.

Shoot them a short and sweet email or LinkedIn message. Briefly introduce yourself, state that you’re seeking to transition, ask to meet, and let them know you are willing to work around their schedule. You can make the request more appealing by letting them know that their coffee or meal is on you. I suggest trying to really build a relationship with the people you meet with because it will really help with the next step.

Once you’ve nurtured the relationship, consider asking for a referral. According to the career center at the University of Michigan, referrals account for 40% of all hires, despite only making up 7% of all job applications. The numbers don’t lie, referrals are typically fast-tracked at every major company. Since you’ll be connecting with people in your organization or throughout the NPHC, they are more likely to actually refer you off the strength of the Greek connection.

Hopefully with these tips you’ll be able to develop a strategy that fits your needs whether that is building and updating your resume, tapping into your network, or pivoting in your career. Our organizations are limitless gold mines with so much to offer us. We just have to open ourselves up to the possibilities.

Photo: Moon Reflections Photography

About the Author.

Tristan Layfield (Iota Phi Theta, 4-HΘ- 08) is a career coach and resume writer that approaches career development with clients by combining their own personal branding with their career field. With almost 4 years as a hiring manager and 150+ clients under his belt with Layfield Resume Consulting, he’s on a mission to help millennials flourish in their careers by building a brand around what they’re good at and enjoy to do!

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