Marcellin College in Bullen Victoria is proactive in fostering community and alumni involvement to support current and past students.
Recently I facilitated a Networking Skills session for the Marcellin Foundation Business Network. In my workshop on fine tuning networking skills and how to master the 45-second pitch, participants learned how to describe their business using solution based stories. Spending quality time networking the friendly evening hatched several business relationships and friendships.
A business network is a perfect vehicle to facilitate engagement for a school alumni community. It not only keeps past students connected with the school but extensive research suggests that students achieve higher academic results when parents have an active involvement with their child’s school ¹. A business network provides a way to foster engagement with parents of the school, with the added incentive for parents of growing their professional network.
1. A network that is continually expanding
Secondary school business networks have a head start in being successful. Metropolitan secondary school enrolments generally range from 1100 to 2500. Within this pool of families is a rich resource of skills from a variety of industries. Some of the parents may have also attended the school with the bond already present. As every year passes new families join the school, a win-win for the secondary school business network as the membership has the potential to grow each year.
2. Word of Mouth Opportunities
A well-managed Alumni Business Networks can provide opportunities for multi-generational connections with the school. Recent graduates of the school are able to network with past students spanning many generations who are well established in their field of business. This creates the environment for opportunities through word of mouth recommendation. With reportedly up to 85% of jobs found through word of mouth a person you meet at a business networking event could provide an introduction or lead for business growth or the next step in your career.
3. Business Networks Build Social Capital
Business networks operate on the law of reciprocity – if I am nice to you and assist you, you will be more likely to return the generosity and assist me². Business networks build social capital. Members of the network bring skills, knowledge and their network of connections, those belonging to the group have a resource to tap into. A business network group is a bridge to resources and creates a bond identifying with the group³. Business networks provide the opportunity to get to know each other over time and in doing so building trust in the member’s products and services.
4. Advocacy, Skills & Community Support
Alumni who stay connected with the school are more likely to provide support to the school when called upon. This could be financial, sponsorship, work experience opportunities for students, be a guest speaker or provide a service to the school. When schools need advocacy support Alumni groups and their networks can add clout to a campaign that strengthens community support for a school cause. At certain times a school might need the assistance of a professional with specialised skills. Members of the network could possess the skills or be a member of an association who can help.
5. Philanthropic Purpose
A business network can also have a philanthropic purpose. The Marcellin Foundation Business Network events support the Marcellin Foundation who provide bursary support for Marcellin families in times of hardship. A large Alumni network can draw upon the generosity of donations or resources for fundraising, this could be venues for events, prizes donated for raffles or connections to high profile speakers as drawcards for events.
¹ Epstein, J 2011, School Family and Community Partnerships, 2nd edn, Westview Press, Boulder, CO
Gonzalez, A 2002, ‘Parental Involvement: Its Contribution to High School Students’ Motivation’, The Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas, vol. 75, no. 3, pp.132-134.
Henderson, A.T. and Mapp, K.L., 2002. A New Wave of Evidence: The Impact of School, Family, and Community Connections on Student Achievement. Annual Synthesis, 2002.
Jeynes, W 2007, ‘The relationship between parental involvement and urban secondary school student academic achievement: A meta-analysis’, Urban education, vol. 42, no. 1, pp.82-110.
² Fehr, E. Fischbacher, U. and Gächter, S, 2002, Strong reciprocity, human cooperation, and the enforcement of social norms. Human nature, 13(1), pp.1-25.
³ Putnam, R. 2000. Bowling alone: The collapse and revival of American community, Simon and Schuster, NY
Direct URL links
Belli 2017, How many jobs are found through networking, really?, Pay Scale Blog 6 April 2017, viewed 12 September 2018, <https://www.payscale.com/career-news/2017/04/many-jobs-found-networking>.