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Wave after wave of caps and gowns are exiting stage left and taking their place in the ranks of names and email addresses at Alumni Halls across the nation.
But what do these new grads actually do to stay connected to their University?
The easy and most likely answer is Facebook.
And that could easily and likely be the worst answer.
I’ve watched it ring true now these past few years where an intern enters VPM with 1200+ Facebook friends carefully (insert sarcasm) cultivated over the previous four years and exits with considerably less.
Because they don’t actually know them outside of maybe sitting next to them in Freshman orientation classes. Four years later, if they’ve seen them at all outside of Wednesday night drink specials’, they’re ready for a new chapter in their life.
In this new chapter, it’s not about large numbers of connections from the past anyway. It’s about connecting period. Old-timers, mid-career, other recent grads, former faculty and staff, even non-grads who are rabid fans – they all matter in this new world without brick and ivy wrapped classrooms.
And besides, who really sits around and says things like, “Oh, remember that time on Facebook timeline when we all commented on that dude’s photo?”
No. They don’t.
But they will one day return to campus and talk about experiences like tough class projects that forced bonding and ignoring some body odor in the library or a fraternal organization event or a tailgate party or maybe even an internship experience.
And there’s your roadmap for getting and staying connected once you move out of the dorm: getting and staying involved in a remote campus sanctioned organization.
Your University may not be as clever as the University of Texas when it comes to naming their organization (Texas Exes), or boost a YouTube channel aimed at preserving graduation and key events for your perpetual viewing pleasure (West Virginia), but they probably have an Alumni Club in your new city. If not, social media is a good place to start finding other grads who know where you’re coming from.
Because experience is what counts in our memory banks, and it’s still almost impossible to have a true, “experience” outside of something tragic online (cyber bullying comes to mind – others?).
It’s one of the tragedies of social media really. You can share pictures, video and text. Others can “share” by commenting, tagging and adding their own pictures, video and text. But you can’t truly experience it all like being there.
Experience, real experience rocks when it comes to the foundation of what is going to make your post college network work. What better place to start than an organization in your new home city? They almost all have sporting event watch parties and some go even further and have events in the Spring and Summer too (notice the nod to Fall and football because yes, we’re deep in SEC country).
Re-enter social networks….because these are where you can actually find aforementioned clubs, organizations and experience networking in its most basic fashion. Just keep in mind, once you use these networks to find a place to hang out, you actually have to go and you know, hang out.
- Linkedin – Alumni groups and advance search should become your go-to resources
- Facebook – Alumni groups (and pages) exist here too
- Twitter – Search and follow. You know the rest
- Pinterest – Who the hell knows, but the interns will kill me if I don’t list Pinterest
- Fill in the Blank network – so long as it uses hashtags. Then you can freely join the conversation and see where it leads
Just remember, staying connected isn’t about friending and following every person in your age group. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by what the over 50 crowd can offer in career advice if you’ll look past what they don’t offer in a Facebook cover photo. Ditto that mid-career person who hit the sidewalk running 15 years before you did, got married, had a couple of kids and is now a hiring manager or a startup founder.
Getting and staying connected in the post-college years is about participating. It’s a contact sport that can easily begin on social networks, but it is going to require physically showing up, flashing that smile and extending a hand away from your iPhone.
Author: Don Crow is Founder & CEO at Verge Pipe Media. Verge Pipe Media
assists public institutions, enterprises and the non-profit sector with Imaginative
Inbound Marketing strategies + campaigns. We also have a development team
chock full of Marvelous Mobile Migrators, poised to help transition our clients into a
mobile + social world with custom software, iOS and Android mobile apps.