|Online Community minesonline.net Goes Live|
|“Mines is a first-rate technical university and its alumni deserve up-to-date, sophisticated communication tools,” says Anita Pariseau, executive director of the alumni association, who was proud to see CSMAA’s online alumni community officially launch in late fall 2008. The new interactive site, coined minesonline.net, is changing many aspects of how the alumni association operates. “We’ve never been able to offer connectivity like this before; it’s a stratospheric leap,” said Pariseau.
When alumni first arrive at minesonline.net, they must go through a “first time login” process, requiring an “authenticator ID.” (If this magazine arrived by mail, it’s the number immediately above the address block on the back cover.) They then create a login name and password, check their pre-populated contact information is correct and move on to building a personal profile, or exploring other aspects of the site.
The initiative began in 2007 with the need to streamline reunion—always a big logistical undertaking. “We wanted to be able to communicate out to very specific groups of alumni more efficiently. And we wanted online registration and payment capability,” says Liz Garcia, associate director of campus programs and membership services. When CSMAA staff found these capabilities packaged into a full-blown online community offered by a vendor that had won the confidence of numerous top-flight universities, they took a closer look.
University Advancement was also ready to build a new site, and they opted to partner with CSMAA on the project. “We wanted to take our online presence up a notch and this offered us a great way to do that. The new site is a much better platform for communicating with donors about ways to give and for showing the impact their gifts have on the Mines community,” says Erica Siemers, director of donor communications and relations. On their decision to purchase the product, Pariseau says, “For years we’ve known that this is where we needed to go, but we’ve been waiting for the right opportunity. This was the right solution at the right price.”
After the site was used for Reunion 2008 event registration and reunion communications, CSMAA staff went to work building the rest of the site. They attended training sessions and loaded content through the summer, but held off on the design. “The school was in the middle of redesigning their site, so we waited until they were finished so we could give our site the same look and feel,” says Nick Sutcliffe, editor of Mines magazine and director of communications for the alumni association.
Since finishing the design, CSMAA has steadily expanded its use of minesonline.net: monthly newsletters have been going out since September; a “Hall of Fame” went online in the fall that features hundreds of alumni; online registration has been offered for numerous events; Mines merchandise can now be bought at an online store; alumni can find out if their CSMAA memberships are current and renew online if they choose; and the system has given section coordinators greater support organizing regional events and recruiting volunteers. More recently, active members of the alumni association who are in the job market have been able to access the new Alumni Job Center, where they can post their resume and review open positions posted by employers. “It’s free for employers to post their openings,” says Garcia, “and as the economy picks up steam, we’ll be able to generate even more traffic.”
While most of minesonline.net is open to all, the AJC is one of several benefits reserved for active CSMAA members. “We put quite a bit of staff time into managing the service,” explains Pariseau, who also points out that an online directory with improved search flexibility remains a benefit for dues-paying members.
CSMAA is looking forward to doing much more with minesonline.net. “There are groups and blogging functions that we hope to tap into soon,” says Sutcliffe, who is in the process of recruiting class correspondents to reach out to classmates and enliven the Class Notes section of Mines. “Now we need to get to critical mass. It’s going to be exciting to see the community really come to life,” says Pariseau.