Last Thursday, I sent out the following tweet:
It got a warm reception, with twenty retweets, fifteen favorites and several direct responses to me with suggestions for what UCF should do to accomplish this goal.
So how do we do this? How can we use this spotlight to enhance the nation’s perception of UCF as an academic institution? Think about this–in the College of Business I have roughly 225 faculty and staff. We serve about 9,000 students and 50,000 UCF alumni. Now rank order these three groups on their ability to influence how the country at-large views UCF. Feeling empowered? You should. Here are six simple things UCF students, alumni or both can do to help us leverage that Fiesta Bowl victory and bring greater attention to UCF. Consider adopting one as a New Year’s resolution and acting on it before the end of January:
1. Become an active advocate of your favorite UCF faculty member: Great universities are built around great faculty. These are the people whose ideas, perspectives, research, and actions sustain the institution and put students on the path to a better future. If you had, or are having, a great UCF experience chances are that you were touched by a faculty member who changed how you view the world. If you haven’t already done so, get to know them on a personal basis. Understand what they do and why it is important. Then let all of your professional contacts know about this person and what they bring to UCF. An added bonus: When you become an advocate for someone, they are more likely to become an advocate for you. Are you listening students?
2. Attend our Hall of Fame event on February 6th: Prominent business schools have active alumni networks that help graduates further their careers. We have planned a major up-grade of our college Hall of Fame event. The goal is to draw more attention to our successful alumni, invite back past honorees, and give attendees the opportunity to extend their professional networks in valuable ways. A room full of hundreds of successful UCF alums will also help create buzz in the community about our accomplishments. You can get a seat at the table for our Shingle Creek event by clicking here.
3. Amplify our message on social media: . Social media has made it cheap and easy to get our message out to a global audience. By retweeting, reposting, and sending out your own messages about the great things going on at UCF, you can extend our reach many fold, get us trending on social media platforms and help us create the news. Consider our recent #BlackandGoldFriday campaign. It resulted in over 15,000 people opening an e-newsletter about the college and more than 1100 visits to our micro site. We accomplished this with the help of the alumni association and athletics, but think how much bigger our reach would have been if fifty students and alumni had geared up to help us launch the campaign through their social media channels. Interested in helping us out? Our social media wizard, Jonathan Gabriel, is creating a group to do just that. If you want to enlist, email him or tweet him via the college feed @UCFBusiness.
4. Participate in one of our student competitions: . UCF doesn’t just compete in athletics, it competes in many academic venues with elite institutions from around the country. In business, these competitions range from accounting to entrepreneurship, investments and sales. Showing we can and do hang with the big boys and girls on a national stage is one of the best ways we can expand our footprint. For students, this means getting out of your comfort zone, risking failure and committing to compete at the highest level. For alums, it means donating some time to help coach a UCF team as they prepare for the national stage. If you want to help, contact one of our external relations staff and they will get you connected.
5. Help build our presence in key cities: UCF has many alumni in places like Atlanta, Chicago, New York, Washington, Dallas, Houston, and San Francisco to name just a few. We visit these cities regularly and are working to connect a strong core of successful professionals who can come together, learn about what is going on at UCF, and build a network of contacts that enhance their careers. These are not watch parties, but events where we bring faculty, discuss issues of concern to you, and look for ways to promote UCF alums in their communities. Come out and see us when we get to town.
6. Interview with national firms and be the best kick-ass interviewee imaginable. . This takes preparation and swagger. But showing a big company you came prepared for the interview, understand what the company is doing, and how you can help them meet their goals will open many eyes to UCF. They have heard about the football team and how Bortles and company used preparation and swagger to convincingly beat a 17 point favorite. They are intrigued by those upstarts from UCF. Use this to your advantage. Building our presence with big national firms will make it easier for those that follow in your footsteps to get interviews with these same companies and extends our reach. If you aren’t ready to do this yet, get busy now.
My good friend Jack Schibrowki once told me that if you want to be perceived to like a “Big Time” university, the most effective thing to do is to act like one. Our Fiesta Bowl victory has primed a lot of people to expect “big things” from UCF. To leverage our big win, we need to consistently show people we have indeed arrived through our actions and messaging. There is no better time to #ChargeOn people. Let’s make 2014 the year everyone in the country heard about UCF.