Friday, December 02, 2005

Growing LinkedIn Groups for Alumni

Lately I’ve taken a little time to increase the number of people in one of my alma mater’s LinkedIn Groups for alumni. My motivation to do so is to:

  1. Increase the number of people already in LinkedIn that can have the option to contact directly.
  2. Increase the number of people joining LinkedIn.
  3. Increase the reputation and value of being an alumnus of this university.

The last is little fuzzy, I admit, but basically what I’m trying to say is that if alumni are able to be more successful as a result of being in LinkedIn, then that will help the reputation of the university (which in turn will help me as an alumnus of the university).

This school has about 30,000 students enrolled at any given time, has been around for over a hundred years, yet has a LinkedIn Group for alumni which only has less than 400 members. That means that there are a LOT of alumni who could benefit from joining the group.

So how did I go about recruiting alumni? I searched Yahoo! Groups and MySpace to find every group related to my university that I could possibly join (without misrepresenting myself), and joined (well, I did skip a number of them which had less than 20 members). I then posted a message about the LinkedIn Group for alumni.

What’s important to note is how I wrote the messages. Some of my first messages got pegged as spam by the moderator. To avoid being labeled as a spammer by the hosting service, moderator, and/or group members, I found that I had to tone down my enthusiasm for LinkedIn to avoid the appearance of just being a person trying to sell something. Also, for all groups I tweaked the message to fit the group.

For MySpace, I tweaked forum postinggs quite a bit for each group , to ensure I wouldn’t get targeted by the hosting service for posting the same message to multiple groups.

In my message, I don’t explain much about LinkedIn or how it could be used. Again, I don’t want to be pegged as a spammer by being too enthusiastic, and all of the information could be overwhelming. I think if I can get a good number of people to just join as a group member with 0 connections and a basic profile, then that’s a great start. As these newbies hear about LinkedIn from other sources and get invitations to connect from their trusted contacts who find them already registered, then they’ll start to realize more of the potential of LinkedIn. I’ve noticed that a lot of people won’t send invitations to connect to their trusted contacts unless their trusted contacts are already in LinkedIn. Getting someone registered in LinkedIn via a group gets passed that first obstacle for people connecting.

One last comment before I show you the latest iteration of my message template: Please don’t try to join a LinkedIn Group for a university alumni group to which you don’t belong. If you do so, you’re just adding more work for the person who has to research and reject your request.

Here is some advice for job hunting. When considering any job, it can be helpful to have informational interviews with people who work at your target organization to find out what it is like to work there, and what it takes to get through the hiring process.

LinkedIn is a service which allows you to search through the profiles of over 4.2 million professionals worldwide. With a basic free account, you can contact many of these people to get an inside connection at organizations in which you are interested. Anyone can join at LinkedIn:

On top of the basic free service available to everyone, XXXX sponsors a LinkedIn Group for XXXX alumni, which appears to be open to those nearing graduation as well. This LinkedIn Group enables you to directly access almost 400 alumni. To sign up, go to XXXX

LinkedIn is a great tool for strengthening student and alumni connections to help each other out, whether you use it for job hunting, finding business contacts, offering your services, etc.

If you would like to learn more about how to grow your professional contact network using LinkedIn, see [UPDATE April 27, 2015: I disabled the hyperlink to my site because my LinkedIn Tips were mostly obsolete, so I deleted them. There are now plenty of resources on the Internet for advice about using LinkedIn.]

Best regards,

Rick Upton XXXX University Class of '##


Tats said...

Great resource. I included your blog on our blog site.

Anonymous said...

I agree, nice post and a good resource for those trying to use LiknedIn for reconnecting with alum.

I recent started a (Fresno State) California State University, Fresno Alumni group on LinkedIn and it has been more popular than I anticipated.

LinkedIn is really on to something with the use of "Groups" and hopefully the site only nurtures the idea going forward.