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To Whom Do My Constituents Matter?

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Posted on 2/20/2013 by Andrea Ganier, Senior Account Manager

I don’t believe in online communities.

Instead, I subscribe to Sherry Turkle’s definition from her 2011 book: “Communities are constituted by physical proximity, shared concerns, real consequences, and common responsibilities. Its members help each other in the most practical ways.”

At iModules, our motto is building connections, not building communities. We understand that our technology is not a substitute for human relationships. Our technology is a tool that helps bring people together.

How can a digitally mediated interaction and the resulting data lead to a true expression of community? It’s all about what you do next.

Last week, Cathy Fresch, Director of Alumni Services at Gannon University, shared an example of how her team is using data from their iModules site to make connections between community members.

Gannon University regularly requests employment information updates via email marketing. Last April, Cathy added a scheduled report to pull business information for any constituent who enables a mentor profile or web card. She next began sharing the report with Career Services staff members who follow up on an individual basis.

In that time, Gannon has done more than just grow the number of career contacts by 68 percent. Gannon has shown constituents that they matter.

Gannon’s project expresses all four aspects of true community: proximity, shared concerns, real consequences, common responsibility, and practical help.

  • In this case, proximity is not physical. For the purposes of career networking, proximity is defined by similar industry and profession.
  • Professional development and career placement for graduates and students is a shared concern between the university and its constituents.
  • Real consequences and practical help come in the form of new job leads and internships for students and graduates.
  • Career services and Alumni relations and constituents share common responsibility and play a role in fostering professional networking opportunities.

Look to your constituents and the data they share through your web site. To share information in the digital space is to ask: “To whom do I matter.” When your constituents share, how do you answer?

  • - Darden School of Business, University of Virginia

  • - Knox College

  • - University of Kentucky Alumni Association