Alumni Trending is hosting an online discussion on Friday, March 28 at 12 p.m. ET using #AlumChat at

This month, the topic is focused on measuring alumni engagement. All are welcome to join the conversation and share best practices.

Future topics or guest moderators can be suggested to

Student Alumni Programs: What works?

Our next online discussion will be focused on student alumni programs. We will talk about both “activity” and “connectivity” strategies.

Join us on Friday, February 21 at 12 p.m. EST via using #AlumChat

Kindly share this opportunity with your colleagues.

Guest Bloggers Welcome

Alumni Trending is now over 3000 subscribers!

If any alumni professionals would like to write articles or share a best practice, please send your copy, images and/or video links to

There is no commitment. You can write one or send us regular updates. We will link the article to your LinkedIn or Twitter account as the author and it will be shared through out our social media sites including: WordPress, YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

We are looking forward to hearing from you. The goal of Alumni Trending is to increase the dialogue of best practices in alumni engagement around the world.

Join us for Alum Chat

chatlogoDiscuss best practices in Alumni Relations! Participants using Twitter can join the discussion by utilizing the hash tag #alumchat. Many find using our Twub channel the best way to interact and join the conversation.

Be sure to tell your colleagues about our online gatherings at

Friday, February 21 – Student Alumni Programs: What works?
TBD March – Email, website, social media, OH MY!
TBD April – FERPA & Alumni

We welcome topic suggestions as well as your questions to

Alumni Perspectives: A new approach.

Alumni Trending Guest blogger:
Ryan P. Catherwood, @RyanCatherwood 

What tools, digital or otherwise, will your university supply alumni to make them stronger professionals? Wouldn’t it bode well for our Annual Funds if our universities could be linked as the catalyst to professional success?

Ask your alumni how they achieved professional success, most will say something like, “by building my network, or course!” Many would reflect on a relationship developed through the university and/or alumni network as crucial to getting the right opportunity.

And we all know that networking is the key to career growth. As such, most universities offer plenty of networking events in the form of on-campus reunions or regional alumni chapter events. To complement these events, most of our institutions offer access to alumni-only databases made possible by companies like Blackbaud, who supply the fundraising/recordkeeping software at W&L. We call our database “Colonnade Connections,” and it’s searchable by major, class year, industry, city, state, etc. Most universities supply all the do-it-yourself tools for networking, but then we pat our alumni on the back and wish them good luck.

How can we continue to guide our alumni as they navigate the uncertain roadways towards career success? And how can we provide assistance on the web, now one of the first places professionals turn when searching for jobs. The answer, I believe, is by replicating the conversations that occur during an “informational interview” and placing these discussions up on the web for everyone to see.

An informational interview is a specific type of networking event. It’s more intimate in nature and typically includes a young professional and established professional. Often held at a local coffee shop, the young professional attempts to gain industry/career advice from the established professional who was in their position once before. An occasional byproduct of these meetings is that the young professional impresses the older professional and ends up getting a referral or considered for a job at a later date.

The conversations that occur during informational interviews are very powerful. At Washington and Lee we believe this form of alumni-supplied content is part of adding a next level to a digital engagement strategy. We’re able to showcase an “expertise in networking” while presenting a new approach to “continued education.”

Alumni content contributors (we call them Alumni Guides) help steer the web-based conversations that occur as a result of their post. They also might ultimately help steer the professional direction of a young alumnus’s career.

For their effort Alumni Guides receive professional notoriety as these posts are promoted throughout the university’s web channels and social media platforms. But the most common reason for spending the time to write an editorial? Authoring an Alumni Perspectives is a way to give back to the institution. It’s good to offer alumni many different types of giving options.

The new Alumni Perspectives editorials debuted on a completely redesigned W&L alumni website in early March 2012.Image

Follow Ryan P. Catherwood, Asst. Director of Digital Communications & Social Media, @RyanCatherwood,

Establishing Traditions

Spring is getting closer, and we Midwesterners are realizing that there might be a “true spring” this year that begins as early as March. For a growing, relatively young university in the heart of suburban Detroit (adjacent to Chrysler headquarters and The Palace of Auburn Hills, home of the NBA Pistons) as of late March has fueled excitement for alumni rooting their alma mater during March Madness 3 of the past 7 years and it seems making the 64 bracket is becoming an expected ritual. More recently March has also brought the beginning of a new alumni tradition and community outreach: spreading the love of reading.

Oakland University is growing. One of the fifteen public universities in the state of Michigan, Oakland has seen enrollment growth each year for fourteen consecutive years. During that time OU also made the leap from division 2 Athletics to division 1 with a new Mascot and recently added a Medical School this fall.

Oakland is young! With the Charter Class in 1963 graduating 125 students, Oakland now has enrollment at 19,000 and is establishing traditions with the ability to build its identity and create its brand.

Oakland is unique in that a majority (2/3 of the nearly 90,000 OU alumni) lives and works within an hour radius of the Rochester campus.

During my time as coordinator of the Alumni Admissions Ambassador Program  we collaborated and created several opportunities for alumni to serve on campus and in their communities by sharing their OU story in the recruitment and yield of future students. One particular program that we began tied into our community’s need to spread the love of reading. Reading to elementary students by athletes, celebrities, and community leaders isn’t new, but creating a program that aligns our institution’s priorities and objectives by serving the community is a rich new tradition. We created the Grizzly Story Time Visit Program, which appreciates our history and envisions our future.

In collaboration with Alumni Relations (engaging alumni teachers) and Undergraduate Admissions (building the university brand with the mascot) we launched the program after our book (Hello, Grizz) was penned; a creative story of the Mascot taking a campus tour for the first time. What better way to serve our community than by reaching out to our alumni who are teachers or principals and inspiring the next generation in our schools. What better university branding than a sit down story with our institution’s Mascot and what more meaningful alumni engagement than going to your alum’s place of work and providing an opportunity for involvement and recognition.

We launched the program in March 2010 by visiting 10 schools. In March 2011 we visited 30. In 2012 the number is growing with thousands of elementary students being impacted each year. We welcome the sign of spring with a new community outreach and alumni tradition.

Follow Luke Fleer, associate director of Alumni Engagement at Oakland University, @lukefleer

6 Questions to Inspire Alumni Interviews

Alumni Trending Guest blogger: Kara Kane @karakane

I have a challenge for anyone who works in an alumni or development office. Build a bank of questions that you can have in your toolkit the next time you are called upon to write an article, news item or feature that highlights one of your graduates.

Once you get past the standard questions of “describe your professional experience” and “what is your favorite memory of [Your College],” surprise your subject with questions that go beyond the boring and into the creative. These six questions can get you started.

1. What do your shoes say about your personality?

2. Describe your favorite memory relating to food.

3. You’ve got a full tank of gas, it’s dark and you’re wearing sunglasses. Where do you drive?

4. Are you a dog person or a cat person? [Variation: Are you a Mac person or a PC person?]. Please elaborate.

5. You have an hour to spend in a bookstore. What section do you make a beeline to?

6. How would your [parent; spouse; child] describe you in seven words or less?

Alumni Trending is launched. All welcome.

Alumni Professionals

atsmallFor those of you who want a more interactive experience using social media, we have launched a great FREE resource called “Alumni Trending” at

“Professional talk about alumni relations, reunions, good data and the secret to the perfect Happy Hour.”

Just subscribe to your preferred social media channel and join or start conversations without having it fill your inbox with new emails.

We have launched 5 channels for discussion on Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, YouTube and LinkedIN with news items from around the web. Let’s discover some best practices together!

The purpose of the group is to increase the dialogue amongst alumni professionals and share best practices from industry experience. We hope you find something new to implement at your school or share something that you learned with the larger professional community.

Thank you for all your support.
Michael Sgro, Curator of Alumni Trending