Publications & Products
Volume 1, Issue 12

Getting LinkedIn with Lost Alumni

A Pennsylvania community college more than tripled its alumni mailing directory in less than two years using the social network LinkedIn.

Doug Ferguson, director of alumni programs at Delaware County Community College, says that he was able to grow his institution's alumni mailing directory from around 1,100 to more than 3,800 entries since he arrived at the college in the fall of 2010. And he credits his use of LinkedIn for most of this success, saying the social network has enabled him to find accurate contact information for many lost alumni in a reliable and cost-effective manner.

Ferguson says he uses a feature—formerly known as LinkedIn Classmates, but recently renamed LinkedIn Alumni—to search for users who list Delaware County as their alma mater. (Delaware County considers, with some exceptions, all students who have completed at least 16 credits to be alumni.)

LinkedIn does not allow for mass-mailings so Ferguson contacts these individuals one-by-one and asks them if they would update their contact information with the institution. He also asks them to consider joining the Delaware County Community College Alumni Association group on LinkedIn-which now has more than 500 members.

"By only being able to email alumni one-on-one, it forces you to be more creative and customer friendly," Ferguson says. "I've had some people turn me down, but I've never had a rude reply. It's all about opening the door. They can see exactly who I am, see my background, see what I'm working on—my profile is like an electronic resume. It generates some trust."

Ferguson adds that he also allows current students at the institution to join its LinkedIn group for alumni. He says this ensures that he has their contact information and also gives them a chance to see the benefits of involvement in the alumni association before they graduate.

LinkedIn Alumni is also a valuable tool for finding potential alumni award recipients, Ferguson says. Delaware County gives out two main alumni awards for community involvement and professional achievement. Several recent recipients of these awards were found via LinkedIn, Ferguson notes.

"I've sent a few profiles to our award volunteers and said ‘here's someone you may not be aware of that you might want to take a look at,'" Ferguson says. "I really look forward to finding our cool alumni this way. We've found cops, firefighters, professors, district attorneys. It's interesting to see what all our alumni are doing."

Ferguson will present further tips for how community college alumni associations can use LinkedIn during a presentation at CASE's inaugural Conference for Community College Advancement in October. He'll be joined by officials from LinkedIn who plan to discuss some of the social network's new features for users.

This article is from the June 2012 issue of the Community College Advancement News.


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Summit for Leaders in Advancement
July 15 - 17, 2012
Washington, D.C., United States

Take a few days to explore thought-provoking ideas with your colleagues and glean the newest ideas from expert speakers. You will come away challenged, invigorated and inspired to be a stronger advancement professional and leader.

Get New Staff Up to Speed

Send newcomers in advancement to one of CASE's flagship training programs this summer and provide them with the foundation they need to advance your institution. Summer Institutes take place in July 2012 in the following disciplines:

Communications and Marketing
Alumni Relations
Advancement Services
Educational Fundraising

Conference for Community College Advancement
Oct. 3 - 5, 2012
San Diego, Calif.

More Community College Resources
See the full list of CASE resources for community colleges.