As we dive into 2017 and with Corporate Alumni high on the radar of many organizations who want to tap into this vast pool of qualified people, here are ten top tips to help you create a vibrant and successful alumni community:
- Be Human, be Authentic: Create an alumni platform around a human centric model; it should revolve around your people. Be genuine and empathetic and personal. This way you will not only engage and retain your alumni, but they will become your best evangelists. People are loyal to communities who treat them with respect.
- Integrate, Integrate, Integrate: Focus on unifying your data. Silos of information, that do not talk to the rest of your business, serve no purpose and are a thing of the past. You must let your data deliver value to the entire organization and ensure that any software you purchase fits this profile.
- Plan An Event: Removing the ‘professional curtain’ and holding an event offers alumni a chance to reveal their perspectives and interests as well as develop more personal bonds and generate friendships. Interaction also helps people think in new, creative ways; mental activity is stimulated – long after the event has ended.
- Social Activism and Social Responsibility: Extend your internal social causes, volunteering and learning to your Alumni. Leaving a company doesn’t mean cutting ties with the interests alumni have in their environment and society as a whole. Keep them engaged and informed about what you are doing and how they can continue to show their support.
- Appoint Alumni Stakeholders: Locate the right people from across the organization, Alumni and outsiders to represents the needs and wishes of your Alumni population. Find someone who can be an activist, tasked with ensuring you are delivering them real value. The appointees needs to be authorized and well placed to, at times, ask difficult questions and challenge the status quo.
- Automate: Automating monotonous or common tasks, processes and questions to improve accuracy and efficiency. This allows the typically manual jobs around managing your alumni to evolve and allows employees to focus on value add tasks and strategic goals *and lower TCO / burden on shared services.
- Be Intelligent, Contextual and Relevant: You no longer have to share the same message with all users. With intelligent software comes the ability to make content relevant to skills, age, gender, geographical location, interests… The list goes on. Get the right content in front of the right people at the right time.
- Cultivate a Real Community: Your alumni platform can be so much more than an excel spreadsheet with a webpage and some photos. Consistently provide real value, great content and be genuinely responsive without the anticipation of anything in return. Be there for your community and in return, they will ultimately be there for you.
- Measure sentiment: Management thinker Peter Drucker is often quoted as saying “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.” Drucker means that you can’t know whether or not you are successful unless success is defined and tracked. Whatever your tool to measure sentiment across time, track it and track it often.
- Do Something Amazing: Do you have empty office space? Could your Alumni in that city in need of a base work from there? Do you have access to special deals or corporate discounts you can extend to your Alumni? Can you share special offers on your own products? Share, wow, excite and delight your alumni. They will appreciate and remember it.
In summary: Be agile, be innovative, be interesting, explore and give unconditionally. Because you know what happens when you give … ye shall, in turn, receive.