At the start of the semester I was approached by our Career Development office about my thoughts for connecting alumni, parents, students, faculty, and staff with each other professionally. They wanted Gettysburg people to be able to find other Gettysburg people in related fields. Although we have an alumni log-in community called myGettysburg it didn’t connect all the audiences to each other.
We pulled together a collaborative group from my office, Career Development, Alumni, and Parent relations. After spending an hour putting LinkedIn to the test we decided that it was the tool for Gettysburg to use to connect our audiences professionally. We had about 1150 people in the Gettysburg College group on Feb 1. We renamed the group the Gettysburg College Professional Network and had a goal to increase the number of people in the group to 1,832 (the year the college was founded) by April 7 (founders day).
Our campaign was a huge success and we ended with over 1,900 users. As of today we have close to 2,100 users and have created an active community. Users have posted questions ranging from networking in a new city to what kind of events our regional alumni clubs should be hosting. Alumni are posting jobs available in their companies and younger alumni have reported finding jobs and contacts through the network.
One of the most interesting things that we have seen are the number of new Class of 2014 parents who not only want to join but already are asking to host internships on behalf of the College.
As a free tool that gives us the ability to connect all of our audiences we could not have designed a better system. Career Development and Alumni Relations have taken clear ownership over the network as well and have begun weaving it into their yearly communication plans.