Last week I attended the CASE (Council for Advancement and Support of Education) District 1 Conference and had the opportunity to hear a variety of interesting speakers. I thought I would share highlights from three of the sessions I participated in.
Engaging Alumni through Career Services
Colleen DelVecchio from Smith College emphasized that if alumni are unemployed, under-employed or unhappily employed, then they will be less likely to think favorably about their alma mater and will be less inclined to engage. Institutions should be doing what they can to support the career development of their alumni, so that they will attribute their successes, not failures, to the school.
In addition to a variety of online and in-person workshops, a special offering that Colleen organizes is “Career Change Weekends” where a group of women gather at a lodge, and the focus of the time spent is on “finding a career you love” and creating action steps to put that goal into practice.
It’s All About Them: Answering the Value Proposition in Alumni Relations
This presentation by John Feudo, formerly at Boston College, and Steven Hall from Boston University, was chock full of information but mainly revolved around this key point of offering a value proposition to alumni.
The five things that alumni want are:
· Leadership development opportunities
· Resume-building opportunities
· Important connections
· The joy of giving back
· Social as well as professional networking
Steven and John advocate for an “alumni-centric” approach, where you are constantly assessing how you are building engagement for the benefit of your alumni.
Delivering Your Campus Messages Through Event Design
Sally Webb offered a lot of great nuggets, but the three that I wanted to be sure to share are:
· Don’t try to cut corners with event lighting. It is key to creating a great experience.
· Stumps is a good and reasonably priced resource for party props and supplies.
· Think outside of the box when creating centerpieces for your tables.
Sally shared a wonderful example of how the Democratic National Committee invited youth at local schools to design centerpiece art that represents issues they care about. Here is a piece that highlighted gay marriage as a right that the students value.
Interestingly, a common thread — which was not lost on me 🙂 — throughout all of the presentations, no matter what the topic, was not to underestimate the power of storytelling through video and social media to advance your message and engagement.