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How to build your connections

Building a professional network will help you in a number of ways. Not only will you make connections that will help you learn about job opportunities, building your network will help you develop the soft skills everyone needs to be successful in a professional environment.

Hiring across all industries has slowed from the economic downturn. Now, more than ever, making connections is vitally important to securing a position. So how do you meet other actuaries? Here are some simple ways to connect with the actuarial community:

  • Talk to Everyone – Whether it's your friends, neighbors, or even your dry cleaner, tell them that you want to be an actuary. You will be surprised at how many actuaries you will uncover.
  • Become Involved with the Alumni at your Alma Mater – By staying associated with your College or University you will meet professionals from different industries, and more importantly, you will meet other insurance and risk management professionals. Remember too that graduates from your school have a vested interest in you succeeding. Fellow alums can also connect you with their networks. Don't forget that when you are at an alumni function to tell everyone there you want to be an actuary.
  • Attend Meetings of Local Actuaries Clubs – Most every major metropolitan area has an Actuaries Club. These clubs typically meet twice a year to discuss trends in the marketplace and new actuarial techniques and best practices. What better way to meet actuaries than to attend a meeting with fifty other actuaries! Prepare an elevator speech and collect as many business cards as possible. Meeting someone is just the first step, however. You have to work to keep the relationship fresh and alive. Occasional emails and even hand-written notes are great ways to keep you in the thoughts of an actuary who may eventually hire for an entry-level position. Make sure you are the one they think of when that position comes available.
  • Build Your Online Brand – Employers are now looking to social networking for recruiting purposes. Creating a well-thought-out LinkedIn profile can go a long way in building your professional brand. Be sure to choose a photograph that is professional and tasteful. List relevant experience, exams you have passed, education, and accomplishments. Also, craft a thoughtful summary showcasing your professional aspirations and abilities. Join actuarial groups on LinkedIn and take part in the discussions. This is a great and effortless way to draw attention to your profile and ultimately your candidacy for employment. Also consider creating a personal website. Your website should again be professional and tasteful and include your resume and frequent updates on industry related topics.

Article written in July 2011 by Jacob Galecki, who holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in Actuarial Science from Temple University and is pursuing a career as an actuary. Jacob is actively involved in building a global social network of actuarial candidates. Within this, he manages the fastest growing Actuarial group on LinkedIn: The Entry-Level Actuary.