Alumni Futures White Paper:
Online Social Networks: A Developing Tool for Alumni Associations
Alumni networks do exist. The question then is, do alumni networks matter?
Our answer is, “not necessarily.” To be relevant the network must help a member do something he needs to do, either socially or professionally. As for online networking, third party networks are not our foes; they are strong allies in our strategic effort to 1) provide alumni with tools relevant to their real world needs and 2) garner up to date, detailed and useful data about alumni. We should continue efforts to provide certain online networking tools solely for closed alumni networks. In fact, there is more pressure than ever for us to provide some such tools – alumni readily compare our services to freely available commercial sites. This means that we must exert our influence as a profession to obtain aggregate data from third-party sites, and use it to perform functions our alumni will find useful. We can do this most effectively by joining together as alumni organizations to influence the further development of these sites. Students and alumni are relying on us to bridge the gap between alma mater and the real world. We must give them tools to link their closed Alumni Network with the open Public Network. A coordinated and collaborative partnership with third-party social networking sites can form the foundation for just such a link."