Alumni directories offer networking opportunities; Kellogg usage grows

Amy Hamblin

College alumni across the country have found ways to keep in touch through online directories.

Although alumni directories already are used as networking tools, the number of people accessing these directories is growing. Northwestern’s online alumni directory, which is free and open to all NU alumni, has experienced an increase in access.

“(The online alumni directory’s) usage has expanded exponentially,” said Elizabeth Smith, director of marketing and communications for NU’s Alumni Association.

Online alumni directories work much like NU’s Ph system. Before searching the network, users must request an ID and password. Search results show the person’s name, maiden name, home address and phone number, business address and phone number, e-mail address, degree and year.

Smith said confidentiality has not been much of an issue because people have the option to edit their profiles or remove them altogether.

On the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s alumni directory, alumni do not have the option to remove information that MIT considers to be public — name, degree, class year and address. However, alumni do have the capability to add as much other personal and career information as they want, said Greg Bourne, the site’s webmaster. Bourne reports that he has received very few complaints during his tenure as Web master.

In addition to their general alumni directories, MIT and NU offer special databases for graduates of their business schools. NU’s directory is specific to the Kellogg School of Management.

Part of the appeal of graduate school directories is the narrower search field they provide, said Karyn McCoy, associate director of alumni relations for Kellogg.

“(The graduate alumni directory) is extremely valuable,” McCoy said. “It gives you a whole network with people who have the same interests as you.”