Community Building

Why is your alumni directory the centerpiece of your alumni association ?


Since you are actively involved in the management of your alumni association, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you what makes an alumni group so important and so useful for your institution. I’m guessing you’re using many tricks to strengthen relationships between your alumni such as: organising social events, publishing newsletters or magazines, etc. Even if most of them really help to develop strong relationships and bring value in your alumni association, there is one more major component that is essential to improve the association’s value: the alumni directory.

Nowadays, too many associations are just keeping track of their members using a database or an Excel spreadsheet, which makes it very difficult to develop true interactions between members.

Why do your alumni join your association ?

Even if graduates also join their alumni association to maintain a connection with their school, or for some small advantages like accessing the library, or keeping one’s email address, the networking aspect remains the key value that makes the alumni association so attractive.

Indeed, the point of joining an alumni association is mainly to enjoy its benefits, especially on a professional basis. Through The socializing and networking processes that alumni associations are implementing, it becomes very easy to build new friendships and business relationships with people of similar backgrounds.

How can you improve your alumni’s experience thanks to your directory ?

There are many ways to help alumni better network: organize social events, publish articles featuring some successful alumni, etc. But most importantly, an alumni association should provide access to an online alumni directory. If you don’t have an online directory that your alumni can access, you need one.

An online alumni directory has many values both for your members and for yourself:

  • For your members, it becomes a place where they can access the personal details of every other alumnus. Even if some members do not attend your events, they are at least visible and accessible in the alumni directory.
  • For you, it’s an opportunity to simplify your job: let your alumni update their own profile in the online directory, maybe even offer them to sync their profile with LinkedIn to make things even simpler. It’s also a powerful channel for your communications: you can quickly interact with any member or make public announcements.

And the online directory is only a springboard. Starting there, there are many ways you can improve the value of the association for your alumni: why not develop an online private social network? A platform focused on networking, where all members can freely interact with each other. Such a platform can even help you reach your members more efficiently.

Which solutions for your alumni directory ?

Plenty of solutions already exist to help you easily build your own directory and networking platform. For your comfort and the comfort of your members I would recommend to go for a mobile solution, like the University of Cincinnati, or EPFL MoT Alumni did. Be careful, as not all solutions are white label. If it is important for you that your platform displays a graphic layout in line with your institution’s identity, make sure you opt for a tool that is offering you such leeway.

Because networking is so important to your alumni, it’s paramount to provide a solution with the appropriate features:

  • Possibility to send private messages, required for a member wishing to reach out to a specific alumnus.
  • A public timeline, where alumni can post content, but where you can also share the latest news and announcements.
  • A member directory, that contains alumni’s details such as: full name, email, graduation year, company, position, picture, etc.

In order to streamline your association’s daily operations with your system you may also want:

  • An admin dashboard, so as to manage the memberships.
  • A public calendar, to better reach your alumni and increase your events’ attendance.

In order to increase the number of members in your association, it is essential that you provide them with the real added value they are looking for. And it’s definitely not hurting if the said tool can also make your work easier! Whatever the solution you go for, don’t forget to always consider the way it facilitates your own working process.

Do you have a tool you want to share with us ?