Okay, so most of us have forgotten that silly fight song, and we’ve lost touch with people we swore would be lifelong friends. But you spent thousands of dollars and lots of work to get that piece of paper that links you to your college forever. Now you may not ever use trigonometry or foreign language in your everyday life, but that doesn’t mean your alma mater is irrelevant to your world.
Colleges and universities are bustling places with more to offer the entrepreneur than you might realize – especially if you’re talking about the school you graduated from. Want to know how your alma mater can help grow your business? Read on!
In a way, everyone affiliated with your college (whether in the past or present) is invested in your success. Why? Because you’re a reflection of your school. That’s one reason it’s so important to keep your college connections alive. Attend lectures. Go to football games. Keep an eye out for alumni events. You have something important in common with other graduates of your school, which mean they’re predisposed to trust you. Don’t let networking opportunities pass you by.
Any entrepreneur who’s ever successfully entered a new industry knows the importance of research. And most of us know how expensive it can be. Short of commissioning a lengthy, costly study, how do you learn about your new niche? Your prospective customers? You go ask the experts. Make an appointment and stop in and see someone who understands the field you’re venturing into. Find out what’s cutting-edge, what’s garnering attention. And if you’re lucky, you might even find a professor who’s willing to put her class to work on a research project for you!
Colleges aren’t just a collection of classrooms. They’re complex institutions with big funding needs that are always looking for good investments. As one of your college’s alumni, you should have the inside track on any funding they have to offer. And that funding isn’t just going to fall into your lap. You have to go get it. Rubbing shoulders with trustees at events is another benefit of networking. Make sure you’re getting the most out of your degree!
We all need good people, but we all have limits on what we can afford to pay. My solution? I go chat with the professors in the relevant department when I need to hire an employee. I ask about their rockstar students, and I have the real deal on who’s about to graduate sharp, hungry, and looking for work. The professors look like heroes, and I get serious talent at ground floor pay. Note: you can use this strategy at a local university even if you don’t live near your alma mater.
At this stage in your life, college doesn’t have to simply represent your glory days. Leverage the connections and opportunities that your alma mater offers you, and you’ll discover hidden benefits from your diploma.
Mike Michalowicz (pronounced mi-KAL-o-wits) started his first business at the age of 24, moving his young family to the only safe place he could afford – a retirement building. With no experience, no contacts and no savings he systematically bootstrapped a multi-million dollar business. Then he did it again. And again. Now he is doing it for other entrepreneurs. Mike is the CEO of Provendus Group, a consulting firm that ignites explosive growth in companies that have plateaued; is a former small business columnist for The Wall Street Journal; is MSNBC’s business make-over expert; is a keynote speaker on entrepreneurship; and is the author of the cult classic book, The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur. His newest book, The Pumpkin Plan has already been called “the next E-myth!”