My second year at business school is coming to a close. It’s been a whirlwind experience academically, professionally, and socially. One concern I have after graduation is maintaining my network, especially for people who are leaving the NYC area or with whom I have a more casual relationship.
One of the main value propositions of the MBA is the social and professional network that one can access and build. Yet, the tools paid for, supported by and integrated within Columbia Business School does not facilitate the creation or maintenance of this network.
I know the school is addressing the events and the coursework management systems, but what shocks me is that the alumni database and alumni networking has not been a priority.
Independent Alumni databases require a lot of maintenance in addition to other more frequently used networks (facebook, linkedin) and their value degrades over time. There are some highly uncoordinated efforts on the part of various departments and student clubs at school that utilize Linkedin and Facebook Pages and Groups.
My solution: Work with Linkedin to create closed groups that feed off of alum’s existing public user profiles. Linkedin could create a verification system on the backend for the university to ensure these profiles belong to actual alums. Linkedin would have user growth and the MBA (and all universities, really) would improve the reality of their value proposition.
Think of all the data analytics possibilities for both the alums and the universities!
Caveat: Linkedin, of which I am a huge fan and frequent user, makes about 1/3 of it’s revenue from selling recruiters targeted lists. I would hope that this product idea for a closed, secured alumni database would not result in the user’s information being sold UNLESS permission is granted. In fact, tons of privacy setting should be included in this offering.