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Circles

Enabling powerful, effective campus collaboration.

By MAX LEISTEN

There are many ways we “think differently” about engagement (here’s a succinct overview). 

All of it driven by our fundamental belief (and knowledge) that alumni and donors love helping fellow graduates — as long as it is relevant (they can make an impact), easy (quick and seamless), and guilt free (if they can’t help, they can be sure someone else will). 

But unlike the traditional 1:1 engagement in networking platforms, Protopia connects the individual (which can be a student, alum, or even faculty) with multiple constituents — amplifying the mentoring and engagement impact.  

Using artificial intelligence, we smartly assemble an Engagement Team that, for example, connects a prospective student to multiple constituents with inspiring career journeys while activating current and prospective donors. A clear win / win / win.  

There are three steps to get that dream team (I’ll draw on a soccer team analogy to help this along): 

  1. What’s the mission (what does the student or alum need)? 
  2. Who are the best constituents to help? 
  3. Which alumni and/or donors does the institution need for us to activate for pipeline development?  

The Mission

Before we can field the best team, we need to figure out who is asking and what she is looking for. 

Career advice? A job or internship? Academic guidance? Admissions insights? Help with a startup? We’ve got about 10 categories (“intents”) defined within our AI though we constantly expand on this as we assist more and more stakeholders on and off campus.

Once we have that intent locked down, we’ll have a pretty good sense for what skills, experiences, locations, etc. we need to look for — and how to prioritize them. For example, if a student is moving back home after graduation and curious about the best local advertising agencies to work for, “geography” is probably the most important aspect with “company” a close second. 

 

The Players

We now mine the institution’s database(s) against this criteria to stack rank them by relevance (not unlike Google). 

But just like we would not field 11 strikers for a soccer match, our aim is to connect the asker with diverse constituents based on experience, demographic, education, and many other factors. That “team composition” varies by intent — we’ve learned that sometimes you DO want to focus on constituents that are similar to the asker. 

For example, a female student entrepreneur is anxious about fundraising after rejections in a male-dominated VC industry, and is foremost looking for perspectives & support from other female student entrepreneurs. While we’d recruit those, we may also ask a small number of male constituents (founders, CEOs, or VCs) to reach out — in addition to constituents more likely to respond or with great past feedback. 

Voila — we now have an awesome team of 15 – 20 constituents ready to jump into the breach (exactly how many depends on the size of the network and the question, but more on that in a future post).

 

The Goal

Not so fast. 

Of course we foremost want to get the very best constituents to respond and spark awesome relationships between alumni, students, faculty, supporters, etc. 

But we can’t forget about that “activation” part. Institutions partner with Protopia not just because they want their community to connect without friction but because it needs to support institutional goals such as “increase enrollment”, “enhance career success”, or “grow alumni and donor engagement.” 

Let’s go back to our soccer team analogy. Rather than just looking for the best 20 players, we may identify the top 100 players that maximize our chances of winning the game — but also consider the coach’s goal of “developing new talent” ahead of the World Cup. So we would prioritize top players by potential, past playing experience, and other factors. 

Taking this into the engagement world, if the institution wants to “engage prospective donors”, we’d look through the top 100 constituents (all highly relevant to the question) and prioritize prospective donors, especially if they never had a “Protopia experience.” 

That mission is a compelling (and seamless) win / win / win: 

  1. The alum or student looking for introductions gets advice and grows her professional network
  2. Engaged constituents feels great about making a meaningful, quick impact that aligns with their busy lives
  3. The institution activates alumni and donors of high value to increase engagement and giving
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Protopia’s artificial intelligence technology makes it simple for everyone in your community to connect. Without another app. 

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