Liza Bennigson

It may come as a surprise that one of my favorite parts of being an Alumni Director was working the registration table at an alumni event. After months of planning and logistics (from invites, RSVPs and catering to set-up, site visits and sound checks), the reg table is where you can sit back and watch it all unfold. Further, it is the only spot (besides maybe the bar) where you are certain to have face to face contact with every person who shows up. You are the first impression, and your welcoming smile and 30-second interaction sets the tone for each guest’s experience. As you hand them their nametag and direct them towards the crudité, they immediately feel like they belong.

Liza_reg

It’s not often that technology can provide an interaction as personal as face-to-face, and move the needle on alumni engagement. So when I learned about KonnectAgain, an alumni online network unlike anything I’d ever seen, I was thrilled to find that feeling could be replicated – and multiplied – online.

A few months ago, the two young Irish co-founders of KonnectAgain, came to recruit Menlo, where I was approaching a decade as Alumni Director, as a beta client for their innovative new software. A cloud-based platform for alumni directors of universities and independent schools, KonnectAgain integrates the many different databases, tools, resources and profiles that alumni professionals use each day, while enabling the alumni themselves to connect in more meaningful ways. The synergy between myself, the product and the team was palpable, and my endless ideas for the company began keeping me up at night. A “free six-month trial” soon became much more: I came aboard as Business Development Director just last week.

Led by a young and dynamic team (KonnectAgain was named one of the Top 20 Female Start Up Companies in Ireland by Tatler Magazine, and its co-founder was recognized as one of 30 under 30 shaping Ireland's future by the Irish Republic), my expertise in alumni relations is helping the company develop its platform into a cutting-edge resource that alumni professionals won’t know how they lived without. Increased alumni engagement? Check. Organized and user-friendly interface? Got it. Targeted outreach to affinity groups? Absolutely. Powerful metrics to share with school leadership? For sure. Analytics about our alumni base to deliver a more relevant and powerful program? Indeed. A team of fun, young and tech savvy professionals ready to help you every step of the way? At your service!

Not even the best registration table (or alumni website, for that matter) can do all that.

As the seventh employee overall and first in the U.S., I’m excited to share the power of KonnectAgain with myriad colleagues, and am also here to translate Irish slang for potential U.S. clients and partners. My only regret? That I didn’t have KonnectAgain when I was an Alumni Director. So far, my favorite things about the company are the organic sales approach (how about a conversation about your alumni relations program over coffee instead of a cold call?), the talented tech team (how did you already implement my idea when I haven’t yet finished my sentence?), the jovial and strategic sales and marketing team (you’ll be Facebook friends by the end of the meeting), a phenomenal product and an open invitation to Ireland. Cheers to new beginnings! 

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