What are the best practices for seeding a new Switchboard?

The first thing to do with a new Switchboard is to pre-populate it with 20-30 high-quality posts.

These first posts serve to:

  • Set the right tone: generous, positive, and collaborative
  • Demonstrate diversity: show the topics you expect people to post about

  • Make a compelling argument: "There are people here, and they want to help!"

Every community’s initial posts will be different but we suggest calling upon a list of 20+ reliable and engaged alumni to start things off with an offer. Generous offers from helpful alumni tend to be the most compelling and create an opportunity to engage right away.  


Inviting Your First Members to Post

When inviting the first people to post you’ll want to introduce the Switchboard, tell them why you’re excited about it and ask them to help you get things started.  

It is helpful to frame their post as an introduction --an opportunity to let the community know what they do, what they’re knowledgeable or excited about, who they can introduce us to, etc. Try to always provide three or more concrete suggestions for what they should post about. You can share some of these example offers from other Switchboards to get them thinking.

We’ve found that some of the most eager and engaged alumni are alumni board members, volunteer career mentors, alumni chapter leaders and admissions volunteers. Consider reaching out to them first.


Qualities of Great First Posts

Focus on eliciting posts that are:

  • About advice, jobs/connections, and hosting

  • Promote interaction on and off Switchboard

  • Bold, generous and helpful

  • Evergreen (continue to be relevant over time)


Avoid posts that are:

  • About housing, goods or events (these can come later)

  • Sloppy, insistent or lacking detail

  • Non-interactive (i.e. "come to this event!" "check out this thing + a link" or "here are all my thoughts/resources/list items/knowledge about X")