This week I am traveling to the annual meeting of the European Association for International Education (EAIE). This is a large gathering of institutions interested both in sending students across borders for college and university experiences, and bringing students (including Americans) to their own campuses.
So what's the alumni angle? It's tangential. I've been asked to discuss my institution's experience with the LinkedIn business networking site, and to speculate on its pros and cons for student and alumni relations.* As I've discussed, we created an official Caltech alumni group on LinkedIn and encourage students, postdocs and alumni to use the system to find one another. And as I mentioned in a recent Alumni Futures posting about "the strength of weak ties," a sound long term strategy is to bridge the closed alumni network and other large, open networks to which our alumni belong, while educating networkers about the value of indirect connections.
I hope to bring back useful observations and ideas from my experience with EAIE. As someone not directly involved in the primary business of the 2,500 people attending (international student recruitment) my perspective is sure to be skewed, but sometimes that's what it takes to generate an insight or a new view of an old problem.