Yay! You have a HUGE LinkedIn group…Now what?
Let me just start by saying I. LOVE. LINKEDIN. I get that giddy feeling every time I log in (the one I used to get with Facebook). I’ve become fascinated by people’s career moves, who knows whom (and how!) and cool, inspiring articles by people way more interesting than me. Unlike Facebook, I feel smart and productive while I’m clicking around. It’s like a professional soap opera.
Slight disclaimer: I’M NOT SURE I USE IT RIGHT. OK, there, I said it. As an Alumni Director, I was on there daily, to get updated job information, recruit a mentor for a student’s senior project, or find a speaker for an upcoming assembly. For those purposes, it didn’t matter that they were all clumped together in one massive group. But if I wanted to send a message to alumni doctors about our medical mentor program, or law alums about the upcoming Mock Trial championships, or invite Executives to an upcoming job fair, I was out of luck. Not to mention that the industry and address info. in LinkedIn almost always conflicted with my school CRM (Raiser’s Edge). Any updating had to happen manually, and I’m not even sure that’s legal.
So when I was planning an alumni meet-and-greet in NYC for our new Head of School, I pulled a list of tri-state area zip codes in Raiser’s Edge, exported them into an Excel file, and uploaded them into Mail Chimp to send an email with a link to the event invitation on our website, where they could register and pay and then I’d have to re-enter those RSVPs into Raiser’s Edge so that I could export them to Excel to mail merge into Word and create nametags. I, like George Castanza, was an importer-exporter.
But this wasn’t all. When searched LinkedIn for our NYC area alumni, I got a completely different list. You see, young alumni like to move around a lot, and keep their parents address on file as their “permanent” address. So as far as Raiser’s Edge was concerned, our graduates of the last decade were pretty much still living in mom and dad’s basement (probably saving a ton on rent).
No problem, I just had to cross check all 150 or so on the LinkedIn list with the Raiser’s Edge list, and then create a new field in Raiser’s Edge for “Current City” so that I could add “NYC” for all 150 and repeat steps 1-4 above. Easy, right? Wrong. Can you imagine a bigger waste of time?
This was just one example of how I was working FOR technology, rather than the other way around. In a world where ease, efficiency, streamlining and customisation are tantamount, this felt unacceptable. But every other alumni director I talked to was in a similar conundrum, and we frequently gathered to talk about how double-data entry made our skin crawl. We were always seeking ways to better engage our alumni with smarter and more streamlined technology.
It’s time to engage alumni better. Smarter. Because your alumni aren’t just one massive group. They’re hundreds of smaller groups, based on graduation years, majors, clubs, sports, locations, industries and more. And it’s about time we started treating them that way.
We have SO MUCH data about our constituents, yet our outreach has been limited to only slightly tailored broadcast emails, event invites and fundraising appeals. But what if we could utilise that data to target our markets and create affinity-based communications and strategies…with the click of a button?