As I fly off to Philadelphia for my first Homecoming weekend tonight, I can’t help but see how everyone is showing their excitement on social media sites. There are Facebook statuses of alumni sharing they are on their way, tagging friends they haven’t seen in a few months. There’s also an official hashtag on Twitter and some rumored perks for the weekend on Foursquare thanks to the University’s social media department.
While we are likely to connect on social media with those from our close-knit college circle, especially around an annual event like Homecoming, there has not been a great way to connect with those outside of our circle year round.
Sure, the Office of Alumni has its own database of information, but it’s not very searchable, easy to remember, or part of a tool we already use.
Luckily, LinkedIn has created Classmates, a tool for insights around the people at your University, where you can find others in similar career paths, graduation years, and locations.
Classmates aggregates the people who have listed attending your university in their profile (both people who list class year and those who do not) and distributes them in the tool based on the class years you define. While the tool defaults with the years you spent at the university, you are able to change it to include those who graduated years before you, after you, or anywhere in between.
The top of the page gives you three high level charts, showing where people from your school work, what they do and where they live. Here I can see that many of the people in my university’s network have either continued their education or ended up working for the university.
I can differentiate my peers by the industry they work in, focusing on the field I’m in, in order to make professional connections, or other industries where potential clients might be. I can also focus on where my peers live. Since my university is located outside of Philadelphia, the majority of my peers continue to live in that area. But, I can delve deeper, and target which few list Boston as their primary residence.
The Classmates tool on LinkedIn helps you to do three things:
- Explore Possibilities: By understanding what your peers have accomplished at your school, you will get a better sense of what is possible for you.
- Make Connections: Since many alumni feel a connection with their university, they are likely to accept connection requests from those in their network.
- Find Opportunities: Alumni are likely to help mentor individuals who went to the same university, so you may find networking opportunities and jobs through using this tool.
The Classmates tool is just one of the continuing improvements and features LinkedIn has worked on in the past few months. Social media is always changing, and it is important for individuals and businesses to understand the changes that will affect them. Check back soon to the Ovrdrv blog as tools and sites continue to transform.