LinkedIn as a connection tool (an update)

March 8, 2011

In May of last year I wrote a post titled:  LinkedIn as an alumni connection tool

The post got quite a bit of traffic and I have had a number of institutions contact me in the last year about our efforts. I thought it would be appropriate to give an update on our efforts.

Today we are approaching almost 3,000 members of the Gettysburg College Professional Network on LinkedIn. Our collaborative efforts from last spring have proved to be well worth the time and effort we put in. One of the keys to our success was the group that assembled to work on the project. We had members of the alumni office, parent relations area, career development, and marketing and web teams. These groups continue to be engaged in the project.

Our goal for the project was quite simple, to connect alumni, parents, students, faculty, and staff with each other professionally.

During the last year we have seen our membership grow, the conversations on LinkedIn develop, and the Professional Network become a part of the career development business process. While we were pleased with the number of people who had joined the group we were even more pleased with the number of jobs posted, questions asked, and discussions started among our members. The network has value to all involved.

One of the success stories from this year was when a prospective parent posted a question, “Hello, Gettysburg is at the top of my daughter’s short list of colleges. Two questions: How liberal is Gettysburg? And how safe is Gettysburg College for a young lady? Thanks!” 21 comments later the question was answered from all angles, from alumni and parents of various generations, and a variety of perspectives. The value of the network was never more evident than that day.

Career Development routinely works with students and actively works to help them join and use LinkedIn as a key networking tool. Building our base on LinkedIn has also helped to fuel a new initiative at the College. Gettysburg will conduct an intensive five-year campaign to create 1,832 (the year the college was founded) new career-related opportunities for students by 2014, and we’re depending upon alumni, parents, and friends of the College to make these opportunities a reality. LinkedIn will play a role in helping us meet and exceed this goal.

LinkedIn as an alumni connection tool

May 26, 2010

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.

LinkedIn perfect time to get started

April 17, 2009

Graduation creates the perfect time to re energize your campaign on LinkedIn. With the Class of 2009 getting ready to graduate and move into the “real world” an opportunity to increase the size and participation of your LinkedIn is within your grasp. There are hundreds or in some cases thousands of new alumni getting ready to enter the work force what better way to help them then to invite them to join your group and get to know other graduates. Here is a resource that can help be a catalyst for your communication to the soon-to-be graduates

This is also a great way to reach out and collaborate with your Career Services area and form a strategic partnership. There are lots of stories about internships, externships, and alumni. A good relationship with the career office can help to collect those stories.

Rolling out a new president

February 8, 2009

Over the course of the last week I have been “heads down” as I like to say in a project. I ignored twitter, articles piled up in my Google reader, and some of my on campus constituents heard “we’ll get to that next week”.

Last week I had an opportunity that doesn’t come around every year for a marketing professional in higher education. On Friday Gettysburg College trustees unanimously named Janet Morgan Riggs ’77 our 14th president. It was one of the most interesting and quite frankly fun professional experiences of my career.

Since Dr. Riggs had been presented to campus the week before as a sole finalist we had a about a week to prepare for the announcement roll out but we wanted to think outside the box and incorporate our Web 2.0 and Social Media strategy. We had a detailed plan for the week with assignments so everything was all set to go come Friday morning and all we had to do was push the buttons. (It never quite works out as you plan but Friday was pretty close)

Shortly after the board voted the announcement was made in the following ways:

  • News release posted on website (also pushed to RSS feed and twitter account) Included within the news release was a short video (also posted to YouTube) of  Dr. Riggs which outlined her vision for Gettysburg’s future as well as a flicker photo gallery. Since she graduated from Gettysburg we were able to find historical shots from her yearbooks.
  • Large flash banner on the college homepage changed to reflect the announcement
  • On-campus email
  • Alumni and parent email
  • Text message to those who had signed up
  • Facebook update to fans as well as the fan page photo was updated to reflect the announcement
  • Gettysburg College Linkedin group had the news release posted

We attempted to keep things current throughout the day as well.

  • By around 3:00 pm we had posted a video interview with the chair of the search committee that was done that morning around 7:30 am.
  • We also posted to our flicker photo gallery photos from the different campus events and receptions throughout the day
  • The President’s website was completely updated by the end of the day.

Since we had enabled comments on our news releases in November and sent an update to fans on Facebook we have had quite a response to the announcement. We have received over 30 comments from alumni, parents, and friends on the news story and an additional 5 or 6 posts on the fan page.

As I said at the top of this post this experience the most interesting of my career. How did we do? Could we have taken advantage of Web 2.0 and Social Media tools in different ways? Could we have engaged our audiences better?

Let me know.