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May 31, 2007

Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Science - Engaging Alumni and Students with their Blog

Blogs are hot today.  You can find blogs on almost any topic all over the Internet and many people have at least one blog they check on a regular basis.  What makes blogs so popular?  They allow people to communicate on any given topic, creating a unique online environment for trading information and making connections.

UC Irvine has recognized this!  The Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Science has created a blog to engage communication between alumni and students.  What a terrific way to connect the current students with the alumni!  The blog has been designed so anyone can participate.

The goal for this blog is to create an open forum where students and alumni can come for a variety of reasons.  This is a place that students can seek advice from other students and from alumni, where students can reflect on current curriculum, for alumni and student achievement awards, for alumni to reflect and share their work experiences, and for alumni to reflect and discuss graduate student experiences.

A blog such as this can open up discussions and exchanges of information on careers, internships, job postings, and as a notification of events.  Blogs are incredible methods to share information with others on a variety of topics, and because everyone can participate, an amazing atmosphere of sharing and giving can arise.

People love blogs because they offer the ability to communicate ideas and information with others.  Blogs can be focused on one specific topic or on an array of topics, and the most popular ones are those with frequent posts for the readers to comment on.  If you're looking for way to connect alumni, to open the pathways of information, and to give your students and/or alumni a forum to share knowledge, a blog is a terrific idea!   

Posted by Don Philabaum on May 31, 2007 at 01:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | Links to this Article

May 29, 2007

Carnegie Mellon Tepper School of Business - Finding Lost Alumni

The Internet is an amazing thing.  Sitting at your desk, you can tour Italy, read up on any subject that interests you, find a new doctor, have movies delivered to your door, and even order pizza.  Our world is very Internet friendly, and the power of the Internet will continue to increase year after year. 

The power of the Internet is immense!  This power is tapped into best when you need others' help in completing a task; such as gathering specific information.  Carnegie Mellon Tepper School of Business is doing this by asking alumni for help in finding lost alumni within their alumni online community.  They are asking other alumni to help them fill in the blanks on alumni that they have lost contact with and do not have correct email addresses for.  What a great way to increase the size, participation, and connection level of Carnegie Mellon Tepper School of Business's alumni online community!

All the alumni need to do is search for specific graduation years and degrees obtained.  This will give them a list of alumni that the university no longer has an email address for.  The list is shown in alphabetical order, and most of them have a city and state listed.  All the alumni need to do then is scroll down the list to see if they have the email information for any of the alumni shown as "lost."  Alternatively, alumni can choose the year of graduation, the degree, and then simply type in the name of alumni to add their email address for the university.

This is a great idea on so many levels!  For one, Carnegie Mellon Tepper School of Business is reaching out to their alumni with a request for assistance.  For two, as more and more blanks are filled in, the alumni online community will grow, which will increase participation, giving, and connectedness among the alumni.  For three, it's a terrific method for the university to update their records on lost alumni.

The Internet is a powerful tool, and if used correctly can be even more powerful.  Carnegie Mellon Tepper School of Business has tapped into the Internet, and by doing so, will reach that many more alumni.

Posted by Don Philabaum on May 29, 2007 at 01:21 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | Links to this Article

May 25, 2007

Binghamton University – Alumni Web Sites

If you are a regular reader of this blog, or have read my recent book, you've heard me suggest that you should make "heroes" out of your alumni.  Making heroes out of your alumni can be done in several different ways, and the method doesn't matter nearly as much as the outcome.  And, because of where you are, you are in a terrific position to recognize alumni in all walks of life for their achievements and accomplishments.

When an alumni association takes this extra step, they are not only creating excitement for the particular alumni they are recognizing, but for all alumni.  This excitement transfers over to a more connected online community, greater giving campaigns, and more participation - both online and at alumni events.

Binghamton University has made use of this method in the past, and they are rolling up their sleeves in preparation of getting ready to use it again.  Their e-Newsletter, Alumni Connect, has often focused on their alumni's achievements in a unique way.  More Cool Alumni Websites appeared in several installments of their e-Newsletter in the past.  My personal favorite from this particular page is the alumni who has developed his own Web site that features bridges.  He's an engineer with a hobby! 

Steve Seepersaud, Alumni Communications Specialist, Binghamton University, has this to say, "The e-Newsletter was re-designed in 2006.  It has a much more sophisticated look now.  Even though 'Cool Alumni Websites' isn't a dedicated section of each newsletter, I'm always interested in hearing about Web sites our alumni have set up.  We'll be mentioning them in the Newsmakers section of upcoming issues of Alumni Connect and in the Class Notes section of our University Magazine."

Whether you choose to highlight careers, Web sites, hobbies, or any other special achievement or accomplishment of your alumni, the recognition will help your online community flourish!

Posted by Don Philabaum on May 25, 2007 at 01:10 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | Links to this Article

May 23, 2007

University of Toronto - Gathering Memories with a Unique Contest

College days are some of the most memorable days of our lives.  Those days before the "real world" set in, when we experienced our first taste of independence, made new friends, participated in study groups, and sweated out exams, are often remembered with nostalgia, happiness, and even a pang of sorrow. 

The University of Toronto recognizes the power of these memories and have asked their alumni to share with the university their favorite memories from their time on campus.  However, they've done this in a unique way that is sure to capture a ton of interest from their alumni.  They are holding a contest in order to receive the most feedback they can.  From the entrants, five names will be drawn to win one of five prizes - one of which is a new iPod!  Other prizes include a gift certificate, and University of Toronto goods.

This is a terrific way for the University of Toronto to encourage entries!  Contests are one of the best methods to grab alumni interest.  After all, everyone likes to win something!  Also, because this contest is all about the alumni and their favorite memories while on campus, the university is sure to get some terrific feedback.  Everyone has a memory to share!

The University of Toronto does one more thing on this page that is fantastic.  At the bottom of the entry is a check box for alumni to check if they are interested in being contacted with log in information when the alumni online community goes live.  This is great for three reasons.  One, it allows the university to share with their alumni that an online community is currently being planned so excitement can start to build.  Two, it gives alumni the opportunity to be there from the beginning - as soon as the site is ready!  And, three, it helps the community itself start off with a bang!

Posted by Don Philabaum on May 23, 2007 at 11:23 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | Links to this Article

May 21, 2007

Northwestern University - CareerNet for Alumni

An incredible, and one of the best, benefits an alumni association can provide their alumni is access to tools and resources to further their careers, to get jobs, and to network with other alumni who may be able to help them in their career path.  When an alumni association is able to offer their alumni such career building tools and resources, everyone wins, on all sides of the equation.

Northwestern University has alumni in careers with thousands of companies all over the world.  Imagine the resources available here!  Northwestern University has recognized the unique position they're in and have used this position to further the career goals of their alumni, so alumni can get jobs and do business with each other!  As a result of this, Northwestern University has recently announced their enhanced online career networking, which they call CareerNet.  They want their alumni to reap the rewards of helping each other build successful careers, and networking is one of the best ways to accomplish this.

Northwestern University gives even more to their alumni by offering this service absolutely free to all of their alumni.  CareerNet is designed to assist them gain career knowledge, get jobs, and gain advice from 12,800 active alumni mentors.  Alumni wishing to build their networks, including job-seekers and career-changers, have the opportunity to learn about different career fields, access valuable career contacts, and gain necessary advice from experienced fellow alumni.

Northwestern administrators recognize the service is only good if a large number of alumni participate, and they have that number to back the service up!  Currently, there are 12,800 alumni mentors that ensure an active mentoring environment.

Networking and mentoring are great methods in helping your alumni in their life after they graduate.  By offering this service, the alumni of Northwestern University are sure to get the answers they need, help along the way, and the jobs they want.

Posted by Don Philabaum on May 21, 2007 at 05:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | Links to this Article

May 18, 2007

Northwestern University's Kellogg Alumni Club of Recanati - Alumni Sponsoring Events

The Kellogg Alumni Club in Recanati of Northwestern University realizes that their biggest asset is their alumni themselves.  In 2003, the Kellogg Alumni Association in Recanati conducted a survey to identify alumni that were willing to help build the alumni club by sponsoring events, offering their time, and providing access to special people or places.

For alumni, the results have been fantastic!  Not only were alumni willing to volunteer and support the alumni club's needs, but they continue to do so - over and over.  Since that time, the Kellogg Alumni Association has instituted a dynamic reward program to not only encourage help from the alumni, but to recognize those that have stepped in with a helping hand.  The Kellogg Alumni Club recognizes alumni on their Web site for their participation.

Their KR Alumni-Helping-Alumni initiative grew from only two sponsors in 2002 to ten sponsors in 2006.  In total, there are forty KR alumni who have now co-sponsored a total of sixty-five times!  Not only are the alumni helping, but they help repeatedly!  What a great way for alumni to participate and to help their alumni community grow and flourish!

To recognize these amazing repeat sponsors, the Kellogg Alumni Club in Recanati has developed two levels to show support.  These levels are:

1. GOLD level is for all alumni who have sponsored a minimum of five KR alumni events.
2. SILVER level is for all alumni who have co-sponsored a minimum of three KR alumni events.

Leah Shaheen, Assistant Director, Alumni Clubs, has this to say, "Stuart Ballan is an incredibly insightful alumnus and as a Kellogg Alumni Club Leader, he leads the club with the great vision of 'building sufficient value to make [their] alumni club a key differentiator for future students selecting MBA education in the Middle East.' He and the KR Board work fervently to achieve this goal through their club activities and branding strategies.  This is clearly evident when you visit their Web site, which reflects the spirit and excellence of the club."

When an alumni association utilizes their Web site to build support, and then to recognize those alumni who have stepped in to help, it is truly a scenario of giving and receiving that can only push the alumni association into a forward motion.

If your alumni association is struggling to find ways to build support and to recognize those alumni who have gone above and beyond in your alumni community, consider giving them recognition where all of the alumni can see.  Your Web site is a perfect medium for this!

Posted by Don Philabaum on May 18, 2007 at 11:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | Links to this Article

May 16, 2007

Clemson University - Alumni of Baltimore/Washington D.C. Clemson Club Web Site

Ten years ago, if you wanted to build a great looking, customized Web site, you needed HTML experience and a bit of programming knowledge in order to build one.  Because Web sites are such powerful tools for Alumni Associations to share information, encourage participation, networking, and online giving, as well as list planned events, share photographs, memories, and alumni contact information, it is essential to put your best foot forward in building one.  Fortunately, today, it's a whole different playing field.  Technology has increased to the point that virtually anyone can create custom looking Web sites without being an expert in HTML or in computer programming!

The Baltimore and Washington D.C. Alumni Clemson Club is a very active club.  They have created an extremely professional looking Web site that is attractive, easy to navigate, and easily details everything they have to offer to alumni who reside in the Baltimore/Washington D.C. area.  They have specific areas that include membership information, event listings, newsletters, Clemson Club news, jobs and internship information, photographs, young alumni information, and much more! 

To add to all of this, the Web site is maintained and managed by volunteer alumni, and is supported by donations of local alumni.  What a terrific example of how local alumni can continue to connect, participate, and engage without the immediate support and supervision of the Alumni Association!  Plus, by putting the Web site into the hands of alumni volunteers, it becomes a shared venture that everyone involved has stakes in, which can only make the Web site that much better.

Web sites, when done correctly, do not have to take up a large amount of time from any one person. And there is no better way to get the information you want your alumni to have than by offering a Web site chocked full of fun, photographs, necessary info, and events in order to increase participation and ongoing interest.  If you are looking for a great example of a Web site that works to show your alumni clubs, this is it!         

Posted by Don Philabaum on May 16, 2007 at 11:04 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | Links to this Article

May 14, 2007

Boston University Law School -- Shutterfly

Many universities and colleges have taken to using commercial websites for alumni relations, which can help promote the school and help in keeping alumni connected.  Boston University Law School is doing just that.  They are using www.shutterfly.com to great success!

A great example of this is when the Boston University Law School alumni gathered at the Latitude bar in New York City for networking and reminiscing of the college days.  During the event, digital photographs were taken and then posted later on Shutterfly.  Shutterfly provides photographers the opportunity to charge a fee for the pictures that were taken.  These photographers can charge whatever they want for their pictures, and at the same time they are making a bit of money, they are allowing other people to add the photos to their personal collection.

In this specific case, the Boston University Law School alumni is only being charged $4.09 per 8 x 10 photo purchased, or $8.09 for an 11 x 14.  These photos from Boston University Law School at Shutterfly can be seen here: NY Young Alumni.

In taking digital photographs, the alumni have found a great way to not only share this activity with those that were not able to be there, but also for attending alumni to pick and choose the photographs they want to remember the event.  In addition, it is another great way to reconnect with those they enjoyed meeting, networking, and reminiscing with.  By putting the photographs online at Shutterfly, the Boston University Law School Alumni has made it easy and convenient for alumni to order exactly what they want.

There were a total of 55 pictures taken and posted online.  Shutterfly allows a viewer to view all 55 as a slideshow or to view them individually.  What a terrific, and effortless, method for anyone and everyone to be a part of this event!

Posted by Don Philabaum on May 14, 2007 at 01:02 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | Links to this Article

May 11, 2007

What's Happening at the University of Washington

The University of Washington's Alumni Association knows how to keep their alumni informed on all of their events - large and small!  Their What's Happening webpage shows the alumni association's schedule of events and activities throughout the year, so all alumni can easily scan the page, and find what interests them.  From major events that attract a large amount of people to the smaller events that are held only once per year, nothing is missed.  This is a terrific way to keep all alumni involved and participating with their alma mater and with each other.

The unique thing that the University of Washington's Alumni Association has done is to provide a page to identify all of these events, in an attractive and easily accessed method.  These events include alumni tours, Bridging the Gap Breakfasts, Coaches Tours, Dawg Dash, and many others that alumni will be excited to read about, and then to plan on attending.

Having a webpage dedicated to show what the regularly scheduled events and activities are throughout the year is a great way for alumni to get a quick overview, and to schedule their time so they don't miss out on anything!  Another thing the alumni association has done is to provide a unique and attractive graphic to tie into each specific event and activity.  Graphics such as these easily pull the eye, making it more interesting to the viewer - before they even click on the link.

The only way I'd try to improve on this is if the alumni could easily click on the events they're interested in so that they would automatically be alerted a month before the scheduled activity.  In this way, alumni will have an easy way of reminding themselves of things they would like to participate in.

If you're looking for ideas to engage and involved your alumni, increase participation in events and activities, and to strengthen the bond between your alumni and their alma mater, this is a great way to do so!  Using your website to promote events and activities will make for better attendance and fuller participation.

Posted by Don Philabaum on May 11, 2007 at 04:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | Links to this Article

May 09, 2007

Massachusetts Institute of Technology - Networking with ICAN

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) Alumni Association has developed a terrific way for alumni to network with other alumni and with students.  They have developed a webpage specifically to encourage networking!  They call this program ICAN - Institute Career Assistant Network.  This amazing program includes nearly 3,000 MIT alumni that represent many diverse careers, and they are able to share career experiences with alumni and students, as well as offering career advice.

It's a simple page to use too!  They have links to connect interested alumni and students with tips to help find the right ICAN career advisor for them, to search among the alumni registered as ICAN career advisors, as well as other career-related publications for additional assistance.  MIT has gone above and beyond in helping their alumni and students to succeed in their careers.

Networking is one of the best ways to connect alumni with each other.  On both sides of the equation, alumni can learn, grow, and create connections as they move through their career.  MIT even includes a testimonial area that participants and career advisors can post their thoughts and experiences with the program.  One participant had this to say:

"ICAN is a stupendous networking platform for the MIT community and I had some amazing responses from the alums.  People are more willing to help than you really think."

If you're looking for a program to engage and involve your alumni, and to show them that you are very interested in their futures, providing an active career center with resources on how to get a job is a terrific addition to your website.  Your alumni will find themselves coming back, over and over, in different stages of their career.

Posted by Don Philabaum on May 9, 2007 at 01:10 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | Links to this Article