Rest of World

“Rest of World” is the term we use around the office when sorting mail for direct mail appeals. There’s local mail (UK), mail to continental Europe (a different postage charge, but not quite as much as an international rate) and then “rest of world”—the mail going out to every other country outside of those described above: the US, Singapore, Brazil, India and so on.

While these categories might work for sorting out postage, they don’t work when developing a strategy for international alumni. Lumping graduates who live overseas into one big group overlooks their needs as individuals. An alumnus living and working in Berlin may have next to nothing in common with an alumna in Beijing. Different languages, time zones, professional goals and communications channels all play a role in effective engagement.

As John Arboleda stated in “Find the Right Fit,” his article in Currents, “…institutions adopt a one-size-fits-all strategy for engaging international alumni… your alumni relations strategy should reflect the needs and realities of graduates who live in different countries and often experience different cultures and dynamics.”

While John is applying these principles to alumni events, programs and services on the whole, they also apply to social media strategy for international engagement.

Tailoring content for international audiences is key. For example, as explained in William Foreman, University of Michigan’s global communications manager, “‘we learned that if our content wasn’t in perfect Chinese, then people wouldn’t want to read it,'” Foreman says. “‘Getting the language right is so important if you want to be credible.'” Currents, The China Connection” by Becca Ramspott.

And on Lund University’s international recruitment Facebook page, all questions are asked and answered in English – not Swedish – to reach the largest possible international audience. There’s also a human touch: the page’s administrators, Megan Grindlay and Maria Lindblad, individually respond to each question posted on the wall and sign it with their name and title.

While “rest of world” might be easy in terms of categorization, it isn’t an effective engagement strategy. Care and attention to cultural details will go a long way toward effectively communicating with international audiences.

This piece is cross-posted on the CASE Blog.

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Social Media and the Alumni Relations Profession

What does social media mean for the modern alumni relations professional, and the future of the profession itself? Check out my piece in CASE Currents (CASE membership required) for my thoughts, along with insight from Andy Shaindlin, Andrew Gossen and Charlie Melichar.

Alumni Career Services for Schools

Last week a young alumna called me asking for help. She was looking to make a career change, and was hoping I could provide some networking resources.

We chatted for a while. She outlined the field she was interested in, showed me her resume, and described her future plans. In turn, I gave her the names of some people from our School community who I thought she should speak to (alumni, faculty, parents). I directed her to our LinkedIn group, and gave her some networking tips. At the end of our conversation, I also suggested make use of her university alumni connections, and explore their career services.

She remarked that she had tried, but found her university services lacking.

This led me to the following thought(s): do independent schools in general offer alumni career services? If not, why not? Is the assumption that a university or college alma mater will be the more likely place for a graduate to turn, and therefore it isn’t worth it to run full-fledged career services? While many alumni would think immediately of their university for alumni career networking, I wonder how many would also think of their high school connections.

I plan to explore this in a future post, and am using this one as fodder for conversation, feedback and resources. Give me your two cents in the comments. Thanks!

New Role, New Home

I am thrilled to announce the next step in my professional life. As of Monday, October 24, I will begin a new full time position at the American School in London as Associate Director of Advancement for Alumni Relations. I have relocated from Southern California to the UK and am living in central London.

ASL is a k-12 independent school with a diverse, international alumni base. I’ll be a part of an enthusiastic advancement team, and I will be using my alumni relations and social media experience to deliver programs and services to ASL’s alumni.

I plan to continue to blog in this space, to present at conferences and workshops, and to volunteer. But for now, I’ll be spending the majority of my time getting settled and learning all I can about ASL and the UK.

Thank you all for reading, and being a part of a start of the next chapter for this blog and for me.