Checklist: Using LinkedIn to Engage Alumni

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During a recent Academic Impressions online training, Keith Hannon of Cornell University asked alumni relations professionals from 81 institutions to share where they have found success in sharing content and starting discussions with alumni via LinkedIn.

The lively list of responses provides a quick checklist of content that alumni relations officers are trying across higher education:

  • Post polls about alumni careers, whether alumni are looking to change careers, etc. Lebanon Valley College found that asking “What career field are you currently in or looking to enter?” started a lively and ongoing LinkedIn discussion among their alumni.
  • Post information on job fairs, networking opportunities, and career services.
  • Encourage alumni to share job postings and shared experiences.
  • Post relevant articles in industry-specific LinkedIn groups.
  • Post press releases.
  • Go beyond press releases: Share faculty news and updates.
  • Share the experiences of a current student with your alumni. (Bucknell University has been trying this.)
  • Use ThrowBack questions. “I have seen this work well in LinkedIn groups,” Hannon comments. “It doesn’t have to be all business, all the time. You can certainly have some fun in your LinkedIn group.”
  • Solicit advice from alumni for current students. (This is an especially meaningful way to engage alumni through LinkedIn, because rather than cultivating only a one-way flow of information or even just encouraging alumni networking, it creates an easy opportunity for alumni to give back.)

“All of these represent a good place to start to get the dialogue going,” Hannon remarks.

Which of these is your alumni relations office doing?

Which could you be doing?

The Key to Growing Alumni Engagement on LinkedIn

The key, Keith Hannon suggests, is daily engagement. When polled, two thirds of participants in this online training log in to their LInkedIn alumni group on a daily basis; one third do not.

“That’s where it starts,” Hannon remarks. “It starts with daily attention to your community. The only way to really get to a thriving community is to give it daily attention and lots of TLC. That can mean:

  • Posting;
  • Customer service, answering alumni questions;
  • Promoting other people’s posts and content, not just content that comes directly from the institution; and
  • Commenting on alumni posts and discussions.”

Most institutions understand the value of social media, yet few have a sound strategy across all channels. The barrage of new communities, platforms, and ways to connect can overwhelm even the most savvy social media butterfly. It is time for institutions to take a step back and structure a fully formed strategy to push their online tactics to a better coordinated and more productive end.