Two weeks ago I spoke at the Global Leadership Summit at Oxford University. Our moderator, Robert Curtis from Graduway, posed this question to our panel:
“If you were building an engagement program, what would you hope to accomplish in the first 100 days?”
There wasn’t time to have an in-depth discussion at the conference. Here are four ideas that I believe apply to large and small colleges and universities.
Communicate a digital-first approach.
Team members must understand how to use all marketing channels. There is one thing that drives me nuts. Taking the approach that only one member of a team handles all things digital. That approach is outdated. We are all professional communicators and that means digital too.
Building and extending an engagement team’s digital presence must be everyone’s responsibility. Everyone on the team should know how to create and send an e-newsletter, create a registration form, update a webpage, publish content, and boost a post on Facebook.
Giving everyone a role to play in executing a content marketing strategy takes more than 100 days, but training can start immediately. That initial work will more than pay off when you can then leverage every team member’s time, effort, and unique perspectives.
Use the word “LinkedIn” in every sentence.
Yes, I’m exaggerating. To be clear the most important tool for engagement professionals is LinkedIn. Everyone on the team should have an “all-star” level profile. They should understand how to use the “University/Company Page” to find and research alumni. They should blog about the work they’re doing as dedicated thought leaders.
Engagement professionals are all trying to build a robust university network. That means we must “walk-the-walk and talk-the-talk” when it comes to LinkedIn. Make sure that you’re taking full advantage of all the tools LinkedIn offers. Then make sure everyone on your team does as well.
Understand the goals of enrollment, student success, career services and fundraising offices. Weave them into regional, on-campus, or digital event messaging.Fundraising isn’t the only priority. Engagement leaders must think beyond the advancement office. Fundraising is, while important, not the only goal. Our job is to deploy a strategy that motivates people to help the university. This means tying our work back to measurable metrics. This work can influence application rates, retention, career outcome and, of course, fundraising.
At least, focus on the needs of the career services unit when communicating with alumni. Success in this department should impact all the key metrics.
Spend an afternoon in the archives.
During my first 100 days at Longwood, we hosted an event for classes celebrating 40th and 45th reunions. To prepare for my speaking roles, I dug into the student newspaper archives to research what was happening during those years.Try this even if there isn’t a specific occasion to hit the archives. Taking the time to do so definitely helps you get acquainted with the university culture and lore.
I’m sure readers will have more advice on how to help engagement pros get situated in a new job. I hope you’ll share ideas below in the comments.