NOON–1:00 PM Conference Check-In
Welcome to Chicago! Stop by the registration desk before to check in and pick up your conference materials.
1:00–2:00 Conference Welcome and Introductions This is your conference, let’s start it out right! Join conference faculty to kick off the program and set the stage to make the most of our time together.
2:00–3:00 You Have Made a Wise Decision to Join the Alumni Relations Profession Congratulations on your decision to become an alumni relations professional—you have chosen wisely! This lively session will provide deep insight on the history and advances in the alumni relations craft. Newcomers will receive a unique insider’s perspective from industry veterans and you will take away an understanding of the pros, cons and potential pitfalls of this dynamic, meaningful profession.
3:15–4:30 The big picture - The role of alumni; what, why and how
Alumni are permanent members of the University community and can have an extraordinary impact on their alma maters. In this session, we’ll explore the role of alumni in the institutional community, review a framework for alumni relations professionals, and discuss the tools and skills that will help you succeed on your campus.
4:30–5:30 Small-Group Discussions
5:30–6:30 Networking Reception Join conference speakers and your fellow attendees to network and socialize after the first day of the conference. Drink tickets and hors d'oeuvres will be provided.
6:30 Conference Adjourns for the Day Dinner on your own, group dine-around options available.
8:00–9:00 AM Breakfast and Roundtable Discussions
9:00–10:15 Working with Volunteers Like most non-profit organizations, alumni relations is heavily reliant on the great work of volunteers augmenting the work effort. Sounds easy, huh? Not exactly, but it can be. This session will provide you tips for engaging and motivating volunteers and creating a win-win situation for both the volunteer and your alumni relations efforts. You will also learn how to effectively structure and manage volunteer board of directors.
10:15–10:30 Refreshment Break
10:30–11:30 Elective Sessions (choose one):
So many groups, so little time: Maximizing impact of alumni networks, clubs, and affinity groups.
Alumni networks can extend the reach of your programming into new communities and build inclusive environments. Yet, they take staff time and resources to support and grow. This interactive session will focus on the why, what and how of building and maintaining alumni networks and how to capitalize on the strengths of network volunteers. We’ll explore smart strategies for alumni offices of all sizes.
Campus Partnerships and Collaboration
The work of alumni relations professionals is never done. And, none of this work can be accomplished without developing strong relationships with others on campus including faculty and administrative departments. From Admissions, to Student Affairs, Facilities Management and Dining services campus partnerships and collaboration are critical to the success of alumni relations programming. This session will provide examples of ways to develop and maintain these partnerships for mutually beneficial outcomes.
11:30 AM–1:00 PM Lunch on your own
1:00–2:15 Digital Strategies, Tech Solutions, and Social Media to Engage Alumni The options for engaging alumni wherever they may be are nearly infinite and can be overwhelming. As digital natives become our main constituents, their high expectations for how they interact with their institutions online become paramount. Hear from members of the Northwestern Alumni Association and Marketing and Communications teams on some strategies they have used to build and optimize digital engagement. We’ll touch on newsletters, mobile-friendly content, multi-channel social media strategies, webinars, podcasts, and more. Come prepared to share your best practices!
2:15–2:30 Snack Break
2:30–3:30 Elective Sessions (choose one):
Engaging Students A common question for alumni relations is “why do you have student programs, I thought you work with alumni?” This session will focus on the seemingly obvious answer that students are our alumni pipeline, as well as the fact that an active, engaged student is much more likely to be active, engaged alumni. Find out tips for engaging students early on to create a lifetime of meaningful and impactful involvement with your university.
Silo Smashers: Navigating Hybrid Positions and Shared Responsibilities Across big shops and small, positions are being created that have shared responsibilities for both alumni relations and fundraising, and alumni relations teams that were not previously responsible for fundraising now have alumni and volunteers giving participation in their performance metrics. Whether your current reality or not, knowing how to navigate these hybrid responsibilities will serve you well asa newcomer.
3:45–5:00 Mastering Skills for Alumni Relations Successful alumni relations professionals rely on a wide variety of skills to thrive in their roles; one minute, you’re carrying boxes and the next minute you’re greeting the president. Some skills may come naturally, while others take practice. In this session, our guest speaker, Tracy McCabe (Associate Vice President, Office of the President, University of Chicago) in conversation with Rosetta L. Clay will identify the breadth of skills alumni professionals use from relationship building to strategic thinking and dive into conversations about how we practice and develop some of these skills throughout our work lives.
5:15 Conference Adjourns for the Day Dinner on your own, group dine-around options available.
7:45–8:45 AM Breakfast and Roundtable Discussions
8:45–9:30 Planning, Goal-setting; Metrics and Benchmarking—Defining success; achieving it, measuring outcomes and communicating your work.
Alumni professionals are relationship builders with a long term emphasis on engagement and loyalty. In a world focused on short-term results and metrics, how do we demonstrate the impact of our work? In this session we’ll explore setting goals, building a plan, measuring outcomes, communicating results, and celebrating success! We’ll also consider benchmarking with peers and practice sharing a metrics narrative with decision makers.
9:45–10:00 Refreshment Break
10:00–11:00 Elective Sessions (choose one):
Alumni Relations ≠ Party Planning: Your Event’s Role in Driving Purposeful & Meaningful Engagement
Alumni events, from intimate lunch-and-learns to campus-wide reunions, can serve many objectives, such as identifying more alumni mentors or honoring an outstanding alumna’s career. Ultimately, though, events are tactics to serve your institution’s penultimate goal of increased alumni philanthropy. Therefore, we are not "party planners" as some may be quick to name us. We are thoughtful tacticians designing and executing programs that drive purposeful and meaningful engagement that, in time, will lead to more alumni donors giving more generously. We'll review best practices from conception through post-event follow-up to ensure your event, of any size, serves this goal. Come prepared to share you own tips as well!
What does Diversity Look Like in Alumni Engagement?
We will explore this question from two approaches: 1) staff and operations that support the various facets of being diverse by design; and 2) alumni programs that are intentional and purposeful in building bridges for the greater community. This discussion will provide thoughts and ideas for creating an inclusive culture where everyone belongs.
11:00–11:30 Career Planning and Mapping No one goes to college wanting to work in Advancement, but somehow here we are. This session will focus on how to transition to the field, develop skills to strengthen your career for your next move and measure your success and accomplishments. Learn how to grow your current transferable skills and strategize how to gain the right experience to progress in your career.
11:30–NOON Closing Faculty Q&A Let's wrap up our time together with final Q and A. If you have burning questions—now is the time to ask them!