Where have all our alumni gone? Exploring the new boundaries of alumni relations

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Universities have traditionally been an essential and core component for alumni related communications, news, and activities but recent social and technological changes have meant that a growing level of alumni activity may be occurring independently and "off the radar" of the formal alumni relations programme. This presentation will introduce the concept of 'communities of practice' as a useful framework for better understanding the internal dynamics of an alumni network, and will offer possible strategies for both realigning alumni relations practices and engaging with "lost" alumni.

The presentation was delivered at the annual conference for Flemish and Dutch Alumni Officers and University Fundraisers (NAFF - Nederland Alumnirelaties, Fondsbeheer en Fondsenwerving) held on May 15th and 16th, 2009 at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands.

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  • Where have all our alumni gone? Exploring the new boundaries of alumni relations

    1. 1. naam where have our alumni gone? exploring the new boundaries of alumni relations Joe Laufer, MSc BA HR Management Programme
    2. 2. Presentation outline <ul><li>Introduction </li></ul><ul><li>Alumni networks – definitions </li></ul><ul><li>Community of Practice (CoP) </li></ul><ul><li>CoP framework & alumni networks </li></ul>
    3. 3. Corporate Alumni Networks <ul><li>Maintaining a relationship with former employees via a network. </li></ul><ul><li>Used in a variety of ways including: recruiting, open innovation, new clients. </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of best practices and policies. </li></ul><ul><li>Lessons can be learned from university alumni networks. </li></ul>
    4. 4. What is an alumni network? <ul><li>Traditionally defined as the relationship between alumni and an organization. </li></ul><ul><li>Views alumni networks as a black box. </li></ul><ul><li>Structured versus unstructured </li></ul>
    5. 5. The Alumni Network Triangle Resources Information Capacity Legitimacy University Alumni Audience
    6. 6. The Alumni Network Triangles University Alumni audience owners Resources Information Capacity Legitimacy
    7. 7. Network Theory Perspective tie bridge node actor
    8. 8. Not just nodes, ties, and bridges <ul><li>Relationships </li></ul><ul><li>Communities </li></ul><ul><li>Growth </li></ul><ul><li>Identity </li></ul><ul><li>Participation </li></ul>
    9. 9. Communities of Practice (CoP) <ul><li>“ a group of people sharing a concern, a set of problems, or a passion about a topic, and who deepen their knowledge and expertise through interaction” </li></ul>Boundaries Identities Trajectories (Wenger, 2002) Constellations
    10. 10. How CoPs are being used? <ul><li>CoPs are used by firms as an effective </li></ul><ul><li>knowledge management resource </li></ul><ul><li>Platform for developing and sharing best practices </li></ul><ul><li>across organizational units. </li></ul><ul><li>Differs from traditional project teams. </li></ul><ul><li>Tools & strategies exist to help firms support CoPs </li></ul>
    11. 11. The CoP Framework: foundations domain community practice (Wenger, 2002)
    12. 12. The CoP Framework: dimensions domain community practice (Wenger, 2002) Participation Reification Designed Emergent Local Global Identification Negotiability
    13. 13. The CoP Framework: participation domain community practice Participation Reification Designed Emergent Identification Negotiability Local Global (Wenger, 2002) Engagement Imagination Alignment
    14. 14. The CoP Framework: elements Events Connectivity Leadership Membership Projects Artifacts (Wenger, 2002)
    15. 15. The CoP Framework: examples <ul><li>Castle and estate themes </li></ul><ul><li>Alumni year book directory </li></ul><ul><li>Alumni class representatives </li></ul>The Spirit of Enterprise Private Univeristy Location: Breukelen Alumni: 15,000 Est. 1946
    16. 16. The CoP Framework: examples <ul><li>RSM Charity Foundation </li></ul><ul><li>RSM Day and chapters </li></ul><ul><li>Class reunions </li></ul>Critical Thought Practical Action Location: Rotterdam Alumni: 16,000 Est. 1985
    17. 17. The CoP Framework: examples <ul><li>Inspire and get inspired </li></ul><ul><li>Annual alumni day </li></ul><ul><li>Network groups </li></ul>Never Stop Asking Tilburg Univ. & Eindhoven Univ. Alumni: 8,000 Est. 1986
    18. 18. The CoP Framework: examples <ul><li>Alumni gatherings </li></ul><ul><li>Certificate programs </li></ul><ul><li>Alumni project partners </li></ul>Changing Technological & Development Realities International Institutions Enschede & Den Haag Alumni: 19,000 / 10,000 Est. 1950 (UTC),1952 (ISS)
    19. 19. Thank you! Joe Laufer [email_address]

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