volunteer leadership

"If I don't know your name, I can't help you."

"If I don't know your name, I can't help you."

Why getting involved in your alumni group is THE BEST place to start growing your network. With Ty McGilberry.


Ty McGilberry, President, Penn State Brandywine Alumni Society

I had the opportunity to sit down with Ty McGilberry, President of the Penn State Brandywine Alumni Society, to talk about his involvement in his group and why he loves to stay so involved.

Ty is one of the “champions” of Tassl, and we frequently bounce ideas off him to make sure we are building the best possible product for alumni and alumni group leaders.

He is a connector at heart and loves networking for the sake of networking: meeting new people and helping others reach their potential by facilitating introductions, friendships, and business partnerships. So it’s natural that I would turn to him when I was looking for real-life examples of how Alumni communities are the best place to start growing your network.

In about an hour and a half, I walked away with a ton of great advice for alums looking to make the most out of their Alumni Association memberships. I’ve tried my best to summarize it for you here, using my questions as a guide to get right to info you are looking for:

Why is it important to be an engaged alum, instead of a passive member?

Ty: If you pay your dues but don’t get involved, you’re not active and won’t have the full experience of being an alum.

The Delaware County Chamber of Commerce has a good analogy when it comes to their membership, which is:

"If you pay your membership, it’s like having a plant. If you don’t take care of the plant and just put it in the closet and ignore it, it’s going to wither and die. But if you take care of it; you water it and you give it sunshine it’ll grow, it will blossom, it will be fruitful. The membership is the same way."

If you can come and get involved and say “ok, I’m going to give of myself,” people will take notice. And when people start taking notice, what you’ll find is that doors start opening for you.

How is the alum connection beneficial when first meeting people?

Ty: When you’re in a group where the vast majority of people are going to be Penn State Alums (or whatever your respective school is), that helps because you can say, “What did you study at Penn State? How long were you here? Did you start at a branch or did you do all 4 years at University Park?”

When you start conversations that way, about a person’s background, it’s so much deeper to start off a stranger-relationship than like, “Hey, how are you? How about this weather we’re having…” That’s not how you build relationships.

What’s the best piece of advice you have for recent grads?

Ty: People today think, “Oh, I all I have to do is get online, make a lot of connections on LinkedIn and my Penn State affiliation will have them banging on my door trying to hire me. It doesn’t work that way.

"Every job I’ve gotten is because I knew somebody. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. And yet, people still think all they have to do is shoot out a bunch of resumes and someone’s going to call them. No, buddy, you’ve gotta do some work…"

Amen, Ty. If you’re looking to put Ty’s advice into action, take the first step and reach out to your college’s Alumni Association to find out how you can get involved. From there you can reach out to local groups and start to meet alums in your area!

You can follow Ty on: Facebook & LinkedIn.

Here at Tassl, we’re working hard to build the technologies that help alumni networks connect in the right way, and create a culture of recognition outside of monetary donations.