Did you know one of the first things I did after my book The Alumni Way was published last year was to arrange a photo shoot. No, not me and the book. Just books.

It includes some of the books that inspired me

and are infused in The Alumni Way pages are a succinct list of some of my favourites:

1- Mindset – Updated Edition- Changing the Way to Fulfil Your Potential (Carol Dweck) 

This book by Professor Carol Dweck is a classic. If you read The Alumni Way you know the book is underpinned by her theories of a growth and fixed mindset. This is important for networking (and network building) work because interactions were other is inherently risky. It’s scary and can fill us with the dread of failure or rejection. Dweck’s extensive research in the field offers insights on why this leap of being growth-minded in aspects of our lives will help us fulfil our potential. Put the audiobook version on while baking over the holidays, it won’t disappoint.

2- Friend of a Friend: Understanding the Hidden Networks That Can Transform Your Life and Your Career (David Burkus)

I love that the tagline of this book is: What if the advice we’ve all heard about networking was wrong?  Dr David Burkus presents the science behind networking and our connections with others. I love that alumni networks make a cameo appearance in the book, which sparked my interest in contacting him with my alumni enthusiasm. It worked and he offered an early stellar review of The Alumni Way! Cynical about networking? This might be the book to top the reading list.

3- Entrepreneurial You: Monetize Your Expertise, Create Multiple Income Streams, and Thrive (Dorie Clark)

I confess. I get excited when I read about alumni networks in bestselling books. This was one of them. Dorie Clark is a long-standing advocate of alumni networks and often her articles are peppered with alumni references. If the idea of a book seems daunting at the moment, you can always check out her article in Harvard Business Review: 3 Ways to Make the Most of Your Alumni Network. This article was the catalyst in reaching out to her with enthusiasm and again receiving a terrific advanced book review for The Alumni Way. This was the second Thinkers 50 endorsement for The Alumni Way and Dorie has been generous in promoting the book to her extensive community! Plus- a book that has entrepreneurial in the title- I shouldn’t have been too surprised that alumni make an entrance!

4 – Oh! The Places You’ll Go! (Dr Seuss)

This one isn’t just for kids. This wacky story shows the ups and downs of life – noting that not all things are smooth sailing. This message reminds us that we aren’t alone, that through challenging or joyful times it is our connection with others that see us through. Am I reading too much into this classic tome? I don’t think so. It’s a go-to graduation gift even to this day (and is paired nicely with The Alumni Way for those savvy grads). Read it cozy with someone small to sow those networking seeds early on in life!

5- Engaging International Alumni as Strategic Partners (Sandra Rincón and Gretchen Dobson) 

Imagine 2021 published two alumni-centered books! Sandra and Gretchen’s book is an essential how-to guide for alumni professionals who want to add effective global or international alumni relations to their arsenal. With extensive examples from around the world and practical strategies to revive alumni relations around the world (and with international alumni!). Extra bonus- I co-wrote the chapter on Transformational Philanthropy with Dr Kevin Fleming – it was inspiring to write and hopefully as inspiring to read!

6- Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom) 

I reread this book at least once a year. This book renews my faith in the depth and power of educational connections can have on our lives. A professor, in his final days, reconnects with a former student to navigate through some of life’s most important lessons. What this book reminds me (every time!) is how relatable role models are as important today for our students as they were for Mitch (the former student and author!) in the 1970s. Alumni networks have the ability to create and foster these kinds of inspiring connections – read this (and have the tissues nearby!). That said, it will inspire you long after! I love that Brandeis University, Mitch’s alma mater and the subject of this book, commissioned a retrospective article on the book after 20 years – this offers the teaser – any why this book – and relationships- stand the test of time.

There are so many more worthy of this list, but my fireside and blanket awaits me to curl up with a good book!

Suffice to say I offer this gem to conclude:

Bonus: J Kelly Hoey’s book Build Your Dream Network 

The sub-title says it all: Forging Powerful Relationships in our Hyper-networked World. Inspiring with a capital I! (and of course Kelly was generous in offering her Foreword to The Alumni Way!)

So there is is. Reading for the season. Happy reading to all – and to all a good night!

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