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Date Created: 12/22/15
How to create a Rensselaer Alumni Chapter Yahoo! Group Yahoo! Groups are a great tool for any organization, club or family that needs a centralized home in cyberspace. This is perfect for the Rensselaer Alumni Association, to assist the continued engagement of alumni across the United States and the globe, particularly in remote areas and among alumni that have previously not joined us. A Guide to Yahoo! Groups [Sections] History and Purpose of Yahoo Groups ........................................pg 2 Selecting a Moderator.............................................................pg 2 How to get a Yahoo ID ............................................................pg 2 How to build your Yahoo Group ...............................................pg 3 Customizing your Yahoo Group ................................................pg 3 Setting up your automatic welcome..........................................pg 4 Growing your Yahoo Group-Invitation to join.............................pg 5 Approving new members and messages...................................pg 6 Other Yahoo Group functions..................................................pg 6 History and Purpose of Yahoo Groups The use of Yahoo! Groups to initiate a chapter of the Rensselaer Alumni Association began in 2004, with the formation of the Rensselaer Colorado Alumni Chapter. After 2 years, the pilot group had well over 100 participating members in their Yahoo! Group “coloradoRPI.” That channel of communication assisted Area Coordinators with events across the Centennial State. The chapter received the Special Recognition Award from the Rensselaer Alumni Association in 2006 for their innovative plan, and it was suggested that other chapters can benefit from groups of their own. The purpose of Rensselaer Yahoo! Groups are to encourage ideas and conversations among alumni. It should not be regarded as the main communication vehicle for events and activities for the chapter. Rensselaer’s Office of Alumni Relations has access to greater channels for official chapter communications. Selecting a Moderator Each Yahoo! Group needs a moderator to approve group messages, memberships, and occasionally promote the group and/or events via the group. This job takes about 2-3 hours per week, generally, but the time can be less with multiple moderators. As a moderator, it is best to remain “hands off” and let discussion flow. Messages should be thought of as opportunities for new Chapter events and volunteers, and should be followed up on as you would a business lead (this is where the moderator would pass the volunteer e-mail along to an appropriate chapter officer). All messages should be forwarded to the Chapter president, if the moderator is not the president. In order to set up your Rensselaer Alumni Yahoo! Group, you will need a Yahoo! ID. You can use your Yahoo! ID with your regular e-mail, and do NOT need to create a Yahoo! E-mail address. How to get a Yahoo ID If you don’t have a Yahoo ID, set-up is quick and easy. From the Yahoo home page (www.yahoo.com), click on “Groups.” Click “Sign Up” at the top of the screen. (It’s beneath “Sign In” at the top of the screen.) Fill in the information under “Create My Yahoo ID.” Un-click “Create my free Yahoo! email address.” A cell to enter your email address will appear beneath “If You Forget Your Password…” Click “I Agree” at the bottom. How to build your Yahoo! Group Setting up and moderating a Yahoo! Groups page is easy. From the Yahoo home page (www.yahoo.com), click on “Groups.” Find the “Start Your Group” link. Choose a category and a subcategory (Generally, the best option is to choose “Schools & Education” as your category, and “Colleges & Universities” as your subcategory with your location as a state or metro area. The location of the group isn’t really that important). Assign a name and email address alias and a description of the group. The format for Rensselaer Alumni Chapter Yahoo! Groups is the location followed by “RPI.” For example: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/coloradoRPI http://groups.yahoo.com/group/westchesterRPI http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LI_RPI (Long Island) The e-mail address alias is a great function; it allows all group members to send and receive group messages using just one e-mail address. For example, suppose the group address is chapterRPI@yahoogroups.com. Simply send one e-mail to chapterRPI@yahoogroups.com and all members will receive a copy depending on the mail preferences they have set up. Create a description for your group. Here’s a sample of what a description could include: “Welcome to the Yahoo! Discussion Group for Rensselaer Alumni in Westchester and Rockland NY, as well as Southern CT! This group will serve as a way of networking with local alumni and making new connections from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Questions about the Chapter may be directed to president Matt Kosara '05 at email@example.com. Questions regarding this group should go to Ray Lutzky '02, VP, at westchesterRPIfirstname.lastname@example.org. For the official Chapter Web Site, please visit www.alumni.rpi.edu/involved/chapters/westchester.html ” Chose your preferred e-mail address (if you just created a Yahoo! ID, there should be only one), enter the word verification and click “Continue.” Congratulations, your group has been created. But it’s not ready for guests yet… BEFORE INVITES: Customizing Your Group Now that you’ve created a Yahoo! Group for your Rensselaer Alumni Chapter, you probably want to go ahead and start inviting people right away. While that’s not a bad idea, doing a few simple things before you start opening your group up can save time and trouble down the line. Click “Customize This Group” after your group is created. Customize Step 1 of 3. This allows you to list your group on the Yahoo! Groups directory (a good idea), make sure that people can join ONLY with the approval of a moderator (another good idea), and change settings to allow only group members to post messages to the group (the best idea). These settings can all be changed later if needed. Click “Next.” Customize Step 2 of 3. This allows you to approve all messages to the group (yet another good idea), indicate that all message replies can go to all group members (usually needed), and allows you to activate the group’s Web features for enhanced group activities (why not?). Click “Next.” Customize Step 3 of 3. This allows you to set that all members can view the message archives (protects messages from unwanted eyes), and also set member privileges on all the Web settings like uploading photos and creating polls. Polls are a good option to gauge alumni and are easy to set up and compile results. The ability to share files also allows for resume exchanges. Click “Next.” You are not yet ready to invite people to join! There are two more housekeeping items before you begin! SETTING UP YOUR AUTOMATIC WELCOME Realize that when you invite alumni to join a group like the Rensselaer Alumni Yahoo! Group, you are sending thousands of e-mails and will get hundreds of “bounce backs.” However, the lucky few that accept the invitation to join will need a call to action. Therefore, it is important to set up a message that will welcome new group members and instruct them on how to introduce themselves via the new Yahoo! Group. It’s also wise to send them a “posting policy” of some kind to outline proper online etiquette for the purposes of the RAA. Go to your group homepage. (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/”yourgroupname ”) Click “Files.” Click “Create Text File.” You should see that the screen currently indicates that your “Files” section has no files in it. Create a File Description (for example, “Welcome RPI Alumni”) and a file name, like (“Welcome File”). Under “Auto-Send to Members,” select “Upon Joining Membership.” Remember, you want this message to go to your group members AFTER you have approved their membership, not while it is PENDING. Enter your message. Be sure to introduce yourself, ask the new member to introduce themselves, and tell them how to do it. Here is a sample message: Welcome to westchesterRPI! Now that you are part of our discussion group, please take a moment to introduce yourself to the members. Please include the following information: - Your name, major, and class year - Where you live in the Westchester/Rockland/So. CT area, and your occupation - Any interests, hobbies, ideas for the Chapter Thanks again for helping to build the Rensselaer Alumni Association! Please feel free to post any available positions or opportunities that might be served by Rensselaer graduates. To send a message to the group, email westchesterRPI@yahoogroups.com. Sincerely, Ray Lutzky '02 Vice President of Membership Repeat this process to create a Group Posting Policy. It is important to establish what is acceptable posting behavior and what is not, since the approval of messages is entirely in your hands (and the hands of other moderators who should uphold that policy.) Here is a sample policy: ***PLEASE READ: GROUP POSTING POLICY*** All posts distributed to the westchesterRPI Yahoo! Group must be approved by the moderators. In the interest of free and open dialogue, it is the policy of westchesterRPI to approve any and all messages received. However, we will NOT post a message if we believe it is not in the best interest of the group (that it will place the continued existence of the group at risk). Such instances can include, but are not limited to: - Offensive or abusive comments about members - Encouragement or justification of criminal acts - Direct references to minors with alcohol Messages may also be denied due to duplication, erroneous postings, and spam. The moderators reserve the right to adjust this policy at any time. GROWING YOUR GROUP: Invitation to Join Yahoo! Groups will keep track of any e-mails which have “blocked out” Yahoo! Invites, e-mails belonging to group members, and invalid e-mail addresses, and only send out e-mail invites to the rest. However, you can only send 50 at a time so before you begin sending invitations, you should create a text document with the wording of the invitation and keep it open. That way you can cut and paste the invitation each time you are ready for more invitees. Here is a sample group invitation: JOIN YOUR FELLOW ALUMNI ON OUR NEW YAHOO! GROUP Re-connect with lost classmates and friends from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with our new Yahoo! Group, specifically for your region. It’s a great way to stay informed of local events and network with Rensselaer alumni professionals. The group is free to join, and easy to use. Please become a part of our group today! Sincerely, Ray Lutzky ’02 Vice President, Rensselaer Alumni Chapter The e-mail will come from “yourgroupname”@yahoogroups.com Now that you have your group invitation message, we’re ready to start inviting alumni to the group. Go to your Yahoo! Group home page. Click “Invite.” From your most recent chapter e-mail list, cut and paste ALL e-mail addresses into the top window on the page. Now, cut and paste your invitation message into the bottom window on the page. Click “Submit Invite.” A message will appear telling you that you have too many addresses if you submitted more than 50, and also tell you if you have any invalid e-mail addresses. Invalid e-mail addresses will be left in the top window for you to remove. Cut out (DO NOT DELETE) the e-mail addresses in RED in the bottom window, and re-submit the invitation. A preview of the invitation will appear. Click “Continue.” Return to the Group home page and click “Invite.” Paste the e-mail addresses into the top window. Repeat steps 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 until you have invited all the required e-mails. As members join, they will be added to the group total (front page). Some will select to receive all e-mails group the group, some may prefer a daily digest of e-mails which is one e-mail per day containing all messages. Others may not want to receive any e-mail at all. When a new member joins the Yahoo group or an old member leaves, the mailing list is automatically updated. However, you must approve the entrance of new members. Sending out periodic invites to your list of e-mails is a good way to keep a fresh flow of new members coming into your group. APPROVING NEW MEMBERS AND MESSAGES Most new members that join and need approval will be via e-mail. The default setting for your Yahoo! Group is that you will be notified via e-mail when a group member needs approval to join, or a group posting needs approval. If you prefer to approve members and messages without receiving them via e-mail, please visit the “Management” section of your Yahoo! Group and edit the settings. In that section are tools to change the colors of your group, upload an image for your group home page, view all membership activity, moderator activity, and Web features. The “Members” section allows you to view all the members of the group, when the joined, and also remove members. You can also make any other member a moderator by clicking “Edit Membership” under their name. OTHER GROUP FUNCTIONS… The “Links” section is a great place for the link to your Chapter’s web page on the Rensselaer Alumni Association site. The “Photos” section is a good place to allow group alumni access to your event photos and campus snapshots. The “Polls” section allows you to create polls for your members that are sent via e-mail and will stay open only so long as you require. Polls are a good option to gauge alumni and are easy to set up and compile results. The “Files” section is where your Posting Policy and Welcome File are kept. You can also store additional files here. One option is to create a folder called “Resumes” and encourage alumni to post their resumes for each other’s reference. These files are accessible only to group members. There’s a lot more functionality, options, and trial-and-error that goes with managing a Yahoo! Group, but it’s a lot of fun and gratifying to know that you are helping to connect Rensselaer alumni that otherwise may never have met.
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