The Secret To Building An Alumni Social Network

The Secret To Building An Alumni Social Network

This blog will be outlining the secret to building an Alumni social network. 

Do you have a group of old, trusted, close friends that meets up every now and again?

Usually there is one person among that group of friends who organizes everything.  They are the force that makes things happen.  They are the ones who sets a date in the diary to go out.  They book the restaurant.  They ring around your group of friends to make sure everyone is aware of the final logistics.

Everyone wants to meet up but without this one key person it would never happen.

They are the people who make it happen.

They are your playmakers.

The playmaker role is also seen clearly in sport.

Wikipedia defines a playmaker as someone in association football or soccer ‘’who controls the flow of the team’s offensive play, and is often involved in passing moves which lead to goals, through their vision, technique, ball control, creativity, and passing ability.’’

Whether in sport or in your own group of friends, we see the enormous importance of the playmaker.

Alumni social networks behave in precisely the same way and its success will ultimately rest and fall on the existence of playmakers.

You can have the best alumni software in the world, the strongest brand, and professional and capable alumni relations staff, but without the ‘playmaker’ ingredient, your alumni network will not succeed.

At Graduway, we have analyzed the behavior of more than 300 alumni networks and have understood that the most critical ingredient to the success of the alumni social network, is the presence of ‘playmakers’ – or as we call them, ‘alumni network ambassadors’.

These are the alumni who initiate discussions, who organize local events, post jobs and are most willing to mentor others.

They also normally represent 2-5% of the network size.

Without these alumni network ambassadors, your alumni social network will ultimately die.  With them, they can thrive.

So how do you ensure that your alumni network has these playmakers?  What do you need to do to nurture them and encourage alumni network ambassadors?

You need to do three steps.

The first step is identifying them.

You can identify alumni network ambassadors in a quantitative way by ranking your alumni by who are the most active in your alumni network and whose activity exceeds a certain threshold.

You can also normally spot them by their behavior.  These are the alumni who can sometimes be a little ‘difficult’ to deal with.   They are the ones who challenge/complain about the status quo of the alumni network or who create their own ‘rogue’ or ‘unofficial’ network on Facebook.

What they are really saying with their behavior is that they want to be deeply involved.

The second step is to nurture and empower these playmakers.  To give them roles where you can leverage their energy and activity for the good of the alumni network.  For example, if your alumni network as groups, then these are the people who you appoint as your group owners or class ambassadors with extra administrative functionality in the network.

The final step is recognition.  Your alumni social network’s ultimate success rests and falls with these playmakers.  Find a way to say recognize their valuable contribution.

You now know the secret to building a successful alumni social network.

What are you going to do differently to find, nurture and recognize these amazing alumni network ambassadors?

I would welcome your thoughts. 

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