Why networking platforms are plateauing (1 of 5)

Your alumni are too busy

By MAX LEISTEN

In the first post of my “your networking platform is not dead, but it’s not alive either” series, I reviewed that alumni already have too many apps in their professional and personal lives. 

So here’s the next hurdle: your alumni are too busy. They don’t have time to engage (they way you want them to). 

With a good share of white collar professions going to remote work in 2020, saving commuting and work-drive-by-distractions, and becoming more comfortable engaging exclusively digitally, you’d think that this would translate to greater and more meaningful digital engagement for universities. 

But I’ve heard the opposite from alumni leaders. 

Even pre-COVID19 we lived in an “infinite world.” Work never stops because it’s always around us: email, Slack, meetings, to-do lists. And we carry it with us on our mobile phones. 

That transition in how and when we work has snuck up on us so fast that we really have not had a chance to adjust to it, and the natural reaction is stress, an overwhelming feeling of – well, being overwhelmed. The pressure to “get it all done” is immense and devalues our leisure time. 

COVID-19 has amplified this feeling and shredded that last boundary between work and our personal lives. Work had “moved in” with us and there was nothing we could do. Sure, there has been a lot of wisdom on how to stay productive from home

but speaking from personal experience, it is a lot easier said than done. 

While your alumni are struggling with separating work from non-work stuff at home

But there’s two sides to every story: turns out, “being busy” has become a status symbol

Race to zero (engagement)?

Based on feedback from many hundreds of institutions we’ve spoken to, an average of 5% of alumni sign up for networking platforms such as Graduway, Peoplegrove and Hivebrite. Often fewer than 3% return to engage. Recently we spoke to an alumni professional who admitted that he’s not once used the platforms offered by his three (!) different alma maters.

This adoption failure is not the fault of these vendors or the staff asked to launch and manage networking platforms. They’ve got an amazing array of features, look snazzy, and are often a badge in front of institutional leadership.

No. Your alumni (and students BTW) already have too many apps in their lives. And it’s going to get much worse. By official count there are nearly 100 networking platform available (Capterra, G2), and we’ll bet you $100 that three years from now it’ll be double that. It’ll be even easier for you to buy and swap your old one out.

But it will be harder to get alumni to sign up and use it. Because whatever new platform you’ll be offering, your alumni will have dozens of other new apps to learn. 

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