Effectively Utilizing Your Alumni’s Social Capital

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Julia Freeland Fisher, Author & Director of Education at the Clayton Christensen Institute, joined the podcast to talk about the future of the well-networked university and the best ways for advancement teams to engage with their alumni.

What would it mean to cultivate alumnifor their social capital for their networks and from a business case? Howdoes that actually contribute to the students of overall return oninvestment, you're listening to enrollment growth,university from helics education, the best professional development podcastfor higher education leaders looking to grow in Romant at their college oruniversity, whether you're looking for fresh endromant growth techniques andstrategies or tools and resources? You've come to the right place. Let'sget into the show, welcome back to enrolment growthuniversity, a proud member of the connect Evu podcast network, I'm EricGolson with helics education and were here today with Julia Freeland Fisher,director of education at the Clayton Christians, an institute and the authorof who you know, unlocking innovations that support students networks. JuliaWelcome. This show make so Mac for having me really excited to talk withyou today about effectively utilizing...

...the social capital of our alumni. Butbefore we digin, can you give the listeners a little background on theClayton Christianson Institute and your rule there sure. So the ClatonChristianson Institute is a small non profit on partisan, tink tank. That wasfounded by Clay Christianson, who was a professor at the Harvard BusinessSchool who, among other things, coin, the term disruptive innovation, whichis a term that gets overused and under defined if you're talking toentrepreneurs but basically describes which innovation scale and why and howsort of entire industries unexpectedly get upended over time. So we can get Ia bit into what that looks like in the alumni space, but in our educationpractice the Christians, an institute. We look at innovations across K, twelveand the post secondary space to understand, in particular, innovationsthat are expanding access, affordability and high qualityeducation for more students, and my own research focuses, as you mentioned, onnot just students, access to sort of...

...learning, an academic experiences, buttheir access to networks as a really key piece of the opportunity equationand so excited to dig in yeah so excited to take these research PAC studies ofdisruption, nnovation and see how you've started to think about them inthe advancement space. So to kick us off today. Do you believe that collegesare effectively utilizing their alumni yeah? So I'm not going to make a broadl statement about effective utilization on all fronds. Obviously, alumni arethe fuel for many colleges and universities that rely have wayon.Andowmence doesn't Stan themselves, so I think, in that sense, alumni are apowerful force enough not to be underestimated. But what prompted me towrite our most recent paper on alumni networks, re imagined was a statisticfrom the strata Gallip Alumni survey...

...from two thousand and eighteen, whichsaid that among graduates, only nine percent of college graduate said thattheir alumni network was helpful or very helpful in navigating the jobmarket, and I think that's Pretty Astounding D. I think it's astoundingfor a couple reasons, but primarily, if you think about the sort of bill ofgoods that were selling to students baked into the price of tuition, accessto a network is part of it, and so we believe that, based on data like that,the alumni network is a really undercapitalized resource, particularlywhen it comes to students having the resources that networks ought to beoffering them, particularly for labor market sort of optionality andflexibility post graduation yeah. That metric was a standout for me as well. Imoved to San Diego California couple o years ago and after seeing that metric,I realize I have not connected with alumni of either my undergrad or Gradprograms and something out there. Why? So so, to restate it? Yes, only ninepercent of alumni report, their alumni...

...network has been helpful for them inthe job market. What should our alumni in advancement teams make out ofpastatistic like that yeah well, part of what we looked at in the paper is,as you know, well a lot of my engagement and development offices inmany ways: kind of own, the elupnie relationship, at least at colleges anduniversities that are focused on alumni, giving now that actually turns out tonot be the majority of posecondary institutions, which is an importantdetail for anyone interested in kind of the broader post secondary market,because I think, there's a lot of opportunities in places where thereisn't this sort of ownership or territory dynamic. But sticking withcolleges and universities where advancement offices do play a role andare thinking about cultivating alumni for financial capital. I think there'sa real conversation to be had about what would it mean to cultivate alumnifor their social capital, for their networks and and from a business case?How does that actually contribute to...

...the students? AL OVERALL RETURN ONINVESTMENT? That's a little bit of a wanky term or turnon investment, but itreally is going to become increasingly important. We think in the coming years,as hopefully, that higher education market shifts to something that's moreoutcomes based that institutions are increasingly looking at and heldaccountable to whether they are in fact creating value, long term in theirstudents, lives and in e outcomes based world networks likely matter more. YouKno, let's dig into that concept of does value only equal money,anersylinthropic giving you mentioned. The governance of these advancementdivisions is often predicated on this reality of the most importantconnection point with our alumni is the ask or financial asks the best way forour advancement teams to initially engage with alumni versus time askslike through mentorship sure I think...

...it's a mix I actually want to share.You know we start this paper off with a story from Colbe College, which is asmall liberal arts, college and Colbe's. President David Green responded to thepandemic, which is obviously a very urgent circumstance, but I would sayhigher education is facing most multiple crises right now, so it's notthe only crisis at hand, but present green made a bold ask in May w thousandand twenty, which was to sort of ask their alumni networks that cal the toopen doors for graduates who were seeing, obviously in the in theeconomic recession, not great job prospects who were not sort of gettingaccess to jobs at the rate that prior graduating classes had now, that's likea flashy announcement in some ways it bore a lot of fruit, but the otherthing, President Green did that I think is really powerful is in. This is aquote from him. He took his fundraisers and made them job seekers he actuallyrepurposed his advancement department, temporarly right. This is not apermanent shift to actually tap into...

...those networks to expan opportunitiesfor US graduates rather than to tap into those networks for money, and thereason I mentioned that story is not that Colbe College has now abandonedall fundraising efforts. That's absolutely not the case thore in themiddle of a giant campaign now, but I mention it to sort of say, depending onyour circumstances and your vision as bell the Department and university ifemployability of your graduates is a high priority than these asks forsocial capital, for eferals, for advice, for support on behalf of your studentsand recent graduates are going to actually pay real dividends, and so Ithink, if you're in that circumstance paying attention to Social Capera, notjust financial capital is really really important. It's not the only thing,obviously again, if you're a university or college that relies heavilyonendowments, but it's a, I think, an underappreciated one that that momentfor Kobe College, really, I think, shines alight on untap potential inthese networks. Let's dig into the...

...after image of what disruptiveinnovation would look like in this space. Can you help us picture what ahealthy college network looks like? What is the future state of a WellNetwork University? Yeah? It's a great question again. I think I want to pointout that we think this may look different depending on the kind offinancial model, a different posecondary institution. So there'ssort of two big story lines I would say the first is that among more elite, Nand or well resourced universities that part of what's getting sold to studentsis not just the shiny profiles of successful alumni. But access to alumnithat makes sense and part of what we try and illustrate in the paper is thatthat access can happen throughout the student journey, not just sort ofthrough a directory at the tail end, when you're looking for a job or afteryou graduate when you're trying to maybe get access to a new opportunity,but from day one students might...

...actually be interacting with alumni,who are playing the role of mentor, who are providing career advice who aresources of client projects, short cycle internships and experiential learning,and even who may be playing a parttime staff roll. So there's these myriodroles that I think universities could start to take advantage of during thefour or six year journey that students are on rather than this kind of n youaccess this resource at the very end, that's one sign of a network university.The second- and this is not as much a center piece of the paper I wrote, butour broader research on the power of networks is that colleges in universitystart to treat relationships as outcomes alongside skills andcompetencies, meaning I know I'm graduating what both with the academic,rigorous content and skills, but also with the networks that I need to besuccessful in the labor market. That's one sort of set of opportunities as faras disruptive innovation goes, though,...

...for any budding entrepreneurs.Listening to this, we did spot a real opportunity and a real gap in themarket, and that gap is affordable technology tools for colleges anduniversities that do not have an active alumni engagement strategy. There's abit of a chicken in an egg. Here right, it's not surprising that some of thelarger providers graduate people grow etc are building platforms forwealthier institutions who can pay higher prices. That is exactly what anyrational entrepreneur would do, but what it does is that it leaves open agiant swath of the market of colleges and other institutions that could takeimmense advantage, particularly of local and regional alumni networks, toplug their graduates, intoregional economies, but aren't doing so becausethey lack the resources to procure any of these more expensive tools. So justa push on that would be a classic disruption, Opportunity, justdisruptive, inovation, sort of start off serving less wealthy customers.Typically, they don't make the same...

...margins as the big fancy platforms, butover time they can actually improve and upend an entire market really reallygood. Stup Julia to leave us today help us think about our disruptionopportunities if we're in house. If we're listening to this, theadvancement side nodding our heads right now book going okay, but whatdoes Julie want me to do. Is this? Is this a tactical approach? I got toaddress this a different way. Is this a thought and belief, approach about whatwe actually should be doing here? Is it a governance issue? Do I have to go andbreak some things apart for alumni associations looking to better connecttheir alumni? Where should they start? First Yeah? I love this question andthanks for holding me to account as like the same tank theoretical person, pers that you kind of gesture O. I dothink this is a mindset Shif. I think that if we were orienting highereducation, around return on investment to the student access to networks wouldbe a more obvious ingredient in that...

...return on investment, and so I do thinkthat mindset shift is important, but when it comes to tactics, there's threethings. I would name that we sort of called out in the paper. The first isthe importance of like afthentic collaboration across silo departments,that being student, afhairs career services and elemy engagement. Now youtalk to a lot of folks where obviously, there's people talking across thosedepartments but authentic collaboration will obviously look different, will beabout shared resources and to sort of hold that sort of collaborationaccountable. At least on this idea of social capital, not just financialcapital, as the resource being generated out of Lummi engagement, youhave to pay attention to the metrics that those folks are Heldd to right,even talking to an entrepreuneur last week, who's doing fascinating stuff inthe alumni engagement space, there's no university or college currently askinghim for student level. Success, TAT tricks, they're all about Alemniengagement, metrics right they're, not about how students are experiencingtheir relationships that they're, that...

...this tool are putting with en reach forstudents, and that needs to shift. If we want that kind of cross, silocollaboration to actually bear fruit for current and Aleastit graduates- andthe last thing I would say, is paying attention to technologies Amerging inthe pont secondary space that may not be labelled alomni engagementtechnologies but may have immense potential. One category we looked atdeeply in this paper were, was around experiential learning and access towhat gets called sort of client projects which are much shorter than abullfledged internship, but give students access to those real worldskills and networks that can translate to jobs down the line. So tools likeParker Dee, ripten, an effort called the bridges lianse the people grop isrunning right now. All of these are not designed to be alumni engagement inorder to ask money tools, but they are designed to make it much easier foruniversities, hand even faculty to tap into those rich alumni networks thatare flush with social capital that is...

...being left on the table right now. Dowe wonderful stuff thanks so much or your time today? What's the best placefor listeners to connect with you if they have any follow up questions yeah?Absolutely so all of our research on this kind of emergent idea of expandingstudents ACIS to social capital lives at who you know, dot Org, I'm also ontwitter, at Julia, F, Freeland and Christianson Institute dot. Org has allof our research available as well. Awesome thanks so much for joining usto Julia. Thank you. Heric is my pleasure. Attracting today's new post,traditional learners means adopting new enrollment strategies. Keelikseducations data driven enterprise, wide approach to enrolment growth isuniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in this neweducation, landscape and Helx has just published the second edition of theirenrollment growth playbook, with fifty percent brand new content on howinstitutions can solve today's most pressing andromant growth challengesdownload it today for free at Helocks,...

Educationcom playbook you've been listening to enromentgrowth university from helicks education to ensure that you nevermissed an episode subscribe to the show in Itunes or your favorite podcastplayer. Thank you so much for listening until next time.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (223)