Building a Network
Universities pride themselves upon building communities, not just amongst current students, but with alumni. They key to this relationship is the one-on-one engagement between current students and staff with prospective students and alumni.
But maintaining this connection isn’t a simple task, especially as students come and go from all parts of the world. It’s easy to manage relationships with an on-campus student body, but after graduation, it’s in everyone’s best interest for alumni to spread out across the globe. This doesn’t have to be an obstacle for further networking. It can be a great opportunity.
You are probably already aware of the multitude of approaches the university’s development department can take to keep in touch with students, both old and new, but here are a few tips for making those approaches cheaper and more efficient:
Social Media Listening
If your University is relevant in the 21st century without operational accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, it’s already anomalous in that regard. University outreach should commit resources to managing these online profiles, actively engaging within social circles and reaching out to specific individuals. By personalizing this experience, you can turn your social network from an auxiliary web-page into an active online community.
But you shouldn’t have to pay someone to maintain your social profiles. Now, there’s software designed specifically to help users with your needs. Rather than coordinating each individual website you want to have a presence on, set up an account on a free social listening site like:
- HootSuite monitors all the major social networking platforms, offers weekly analytics reports and the ability to delegate tasks
- Klout monitors all the major social networking platforms and calibrates data to rank the user’s influence
- SocialMention monitors over 100 different social media sites and categorizes data by Strength, Sentiment, Passion, and Reach
Mobile Call Centers
Call centers remain one of the most effective ways to manage communication traffic, especially with regards to alumni. As public funding continues to decrease, donations from alumni have never been more vital to financing university expenses. Influencing contributor requires a considerable amount of goodwill. This means establishing a personal connection at the convenience of your potential benefactors.
Using VoIP (Voice-over Internet Protocol) operated toll free numbers, universities can implement mobile call center to seamlessly forward incoming calls from anywhere in the world. These call centers can be staffed and organized to suit the administration’s needs and resources.
Developing a Brand
Colleges and Universities are just as much products as anything else. You want to create an image for your university that is conducive to a flourishing relationship with donors and alumni. Establish yourself in the public eye as more than just an education institution. Emphasize your presence within the community as well as your own identity as a self-contained community. Effective branding will encourage students to seek recognition as a part of your legacy, even after they’ve graduated.
If you expect students to remain invested in their alma mater, their alma mater needs to show investment in them. Make the attempt to reach out to alumni, follow up on their professional progress, and embrace any opportunity to recognize and promote their career achievement.
University LinkedIn pages have come along relatively recently, allowing universities to network along with with their students. Schools can provide endorsements and connections for past and current students to support them in their job searches. This is a quick and easy way to affiliate yourself with the continued success of your alumni.
Keeping the Connection Strong
Each University’s Development Department can put together their own outreach program that fulfills their specialized needs. As the corporate world adapts for globalization, the business aspects of academia have to do the same. Make your student body a part of your brand, stakeholders in your reputation, an extension of your own success story, and they will develop a sense of ownership of that narrative. A strong network of donors and alumni can work toward success together.