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Giving Your Members Industry Insight Virtually: A Case Study

UseGet Australia
Posted by UseGet Australia on Apr 1, 2020 1:24:53 PM

Faculty based clubs know all too well the importance of connecting students with industry professionals. Even as a student, you know how valuable it is to be given opportunities to network and hear from people who already have a career in the field you’re wanting to enter when you graduate.

If you’re a club with a focus on professional development, connecting students with professionals probably happens in person in the form of events, such as networking nights. There may typically be a panel of professionals who answer questions in a ‘Q&A’ format during the event. In an ever-changing world of global pandemics and the capabilities of the internet becoming more advanced, you might be looking for ways to connect students with professionals virtually and move these events online.

The case

The University of Queensland’s Journalism and Communication Students Society (JACS) is just one club facing this challenge. This society runs a Professional Networking Evening each semester where students get to network with professionals and hear from a panel. With this event having to be postponed due to the COVID-19 situation, the society was still wanting to connect students with industry professionals. They’ve decided to use their contacts in the industry to move this panel online.

How it works

Each week, the society will feature a different professional on their social media accounts. This feature will include a video of the professional answering a range of questions, similar to what would be asked on the panel at their networking nights. All they have to do is film themselves answering these questions sent to them by the club (this can just be on their phone) at any time that suits. They then send their recording through to JACS and the team edit the video. The video accompanies some background information about the professional and their organisation, as well as links to the company’s Facebook and website, and the individual’s LinkedIn and Twitter for students to connect with. 

View an example of JACS' virtual industry interviews here.

Why it works

This form of online ‘networking’ is effective for a number of reasons.

  1. We all know that professionals are busy, but this initiative only requires 5-10 minutes of their time.

  2. It’s not a huge commitment from your society. President of JACS, Georgia Schefe, says, “Having one featured professional each week is totally manageable, especially because we’re not focused on running any physical events right now. All our focus is how we can bring things online for our members.

  3. It’s simple to create. Even if no one in your club has any experience editing videos, there are so many quick online tutorials out there and it can all be done through something as simple as iMovie on your laptop. It doesn’t have to be fancy – in cases like this, sometimes less is more.

  4. Your members are still gaining industry insight and forming connections. LinkedIn is where it’s at!

  5. It allows you to connect with professionals you may not otherwise connect with. For example, your networking events would probably only have professionals in attendance who live in the area but having this all online allows you to connect with a broader range of professionals from around the world.

  6. Your society is maintaining an online presence. Whether you find yourself amongst a global pandemic and are worried about your members forgetting about you, or if you’re just wanting to boost engagement online, this is a great option.

  7. It can be a great way to keep your sponsors happy. You may have sponsorship agreements with organisations in your industry who may normally expect promotion at your events. If you’re moving your events online, featuring an employee from your sponsored organisations in these weekly highlights means they’re getting something out of it, too.

How to do this for your society

  1. Think about the industry connections your club already has. This could include personal contacts and workplaces of your executive members, faculty staff, sponsors and alumni. Do your research and make sure these professionals have enough experience and difference to offer something valuable to your audience. Reach out to them for an expression of interest and include a couple of questions as an example of what they could expect to be asked.

  2.  If they’re interested, send them through a list of questions relevant to their job position and organisation. Make sure each professional isn’t asked the same questions - spice it up! Some questions could be:

    1. What is something you wish you were told when you were at university/when you started in the industry?

    2. Has there been a time in your career that you ‘failed’ and how did you overcome it?

    3. What are three key skills you think every journalism/teaching/engineering student should have to make it in the industry?

    4. What’s the biggest tip you’d give to students wanting to get their foot in the door?

    5. How important are internships?

  3. In this same email, set them a deadline – even if you don’t need it for another month or so. This will keep them accountable and make sure it doesn’t slip through the cracks.

  4. Once they’ve filmed the video, have a way for them to send it to you – whether that’s via email, Dropbox or Google Drive.

  5. Brainstorm how you’d like the video to be edited and how you’d like it to look. This might include editing the questions and adding the text to the video, so your audience knows what question they’re answering.

  6. Get your members excited! Let them know these videos will be released weekly, featuring a different successful professional in the industry. You can get creative with this and use your online platforms to let your members know of this exciting new initiative.

If your society has been creative and moved any of its operations online, we’d love to hear from you! Please get in contact with us to share your ideas and your story. 


Topics: Community

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