5 Ways to Level-Up Your Corporate Alumni Program
Use these 5 best practices to ensure your alumni network is bringing the most value to both you and your former employees.
In the last few years companies have seen their employee retention rates on a downwards slope and are having to embrace the fact that employees will not be working for them forever. Cutting ties with every employee after they walk out the door is now extremely costly for your business. In today’s workforce it has become normalized to nurture and support corporate alumni relationships, for the benefit of both you and your alumni.
Think about it, you gain mentors, referrals, business opportunities, returning “boomerang” hires and a network of professionals at the tip of your fingers. They gain a community that can support and guide them throughout their careers, and they will forever identify your organization as the pivotal point that pilots their professional lives.
For this to happen and be successful you need your corporate alumni program to shine. This takes a lot of creativity, forward thinking and a top notch engagement strategy, but the reward is well worth the effort.
So, where should you start? In this guide we’ll take you through 5 corporate alumni program ideas which will help you maximize your efforts to increase your alumni networks engagement and the relevant content channels that will interest your alumni.
What are the Top 5 Things what will Level-Up your Corporate Alumni Program?
The greatest benefit of alumni programs is the opportunity for networking. Networking happens naturally through events, which is why they are the first technique for engaged alumni.
When we’re talking about events, we don’t just mean a party, although according to Richard Morrogh, Citi’s former Managing Director, “my mantra was never to be shy or embarrassed about alumni wanting to have fun”. Celebrating milestones together, meeting up for dinner, drinks or catch-ups are a great hook to keep your alumni engaged and kickstart the networking within your community. As Richard discovered, 92% of alumni prioritized connecting with former colleagues as the #1 reason for joining the corporate alumni network.
However, in order to shine you want your alumni events to bring more value than just celebration. As Isabella Baldwin from major British multinational retailer Marks and Spencer tells us, their alumni network “is dedicated to helping our people grow their careers.” This means they host events such as their “Inspiring Speaker series” and the M&S “career fair”.
Thinking of events that can drive value for alumni network will go a long way for driving alumni engagement and your alumni will be grateful for the growth and learning opportunities, as well as the added networking time.
If your former employees are spread out around the globe, it doesn’t mean events aren’t for you but maybe it’s worth looking into throwing virtual or hybrid events. There are pros and cons to each and ultimately the decision comes down to where your community is.
Recruitment and Referral Programs
Your alumni have the potential to be your biggest advocates and brand ambassadors. They have experienced what it's like to work in your company, and a positive referral from them is more likely to turn into a successful recruit. They know and can explain your product and work culture better than anyone.
The best way to use a referral program is to offer an incentive on your alumni platform for alumni to send you referrals. Whether this is money or tickets to a popular event or a gift card (feel free to get creative with this or use employee perks) your alumni will appreciate the challenge and reward.
A referral program will also bring your alumni's interest to your careers page, which is exactly where you want them. The chance of them turning into boomerang employees and applying to return to your company themselves increases. The quality of the people they refer is also likely to be of higher quality than stranger hires. It really is a win win for all, your alumni benefits and your recruitment team will be grateful for it.
By company newsletters, we mean newsletters written by the company for ex employees. As a way of keeping your alumni engaged, this brings your companies news and updates straight to your alumni's inbox. They’ll never miss out on an event, referral opportunity, alumni story or company news again.
Newsletters, however, are dependent on the content. You want to make sure they’re relevant for your alumni and not just filling up their inbox with more spam. By sending out monthly newsletters, you are looking at increasing your monthly active users.
Another way to ensure your newsletters are successful is to look at the data. You want to make sure you have an alumni software which helps you to do this. Look at which content pieces your alumni are engaging with the most, work out what value they drive for alumni and plan more around that. Remember, your alumni will always be curious about what their previous colleagues are up to, and alumni spotlight stories are a great way to engage alumni through newsletters.
It's not surprising how many former employees are interested in joining a company mentorship program. It means they truly valued the years spent at your organization and want to stay involved and keep contributing. That’s not to say they won’t learn a lot from your next generation of employees and the benefits of such a program are mutual.
Mentorship programs are an incredible way to build connections, network, learn and grow professionally. If your corporate alumni network supports such an initiative, you are likely to get a lot of positive feedback and a lot more fond memories from your organization will be spoken about and re-lived.
The value in building these bridges between current and former employees is a sure method to boost your corporate alumni networks engagement and help you build a strong memorable community.
Forming groups within your corporate alumni community for past employees to share thoughts, ideas, business opportunities and knowledge on topics relevant to your industry is great for making your network stand out. Your ex employees are a valuable source of industry knowledge and all you need to do is contribute the platform that allows for collaboration.
If you have a platform that allows you to create groups or knowledge hubs, your alumni members will learn from each other, inspire each other and you might see some fruitful initiatives grow. When considering how you can create the most valuable engaged community, connecting likeminded professionals with a wealth of knowledge will turn your alumni community into a source of inspiration and opportunity.
A well-executed corporate alumni network benefits both your organization and your former employees. It can serve as a talent pipeline, a source of referrals, and a network for knowledge sharing and opportunity. By personalizing engagement, fostering networking opportunities, enhancing skills and encouraging advocacy, you can level up your corporate alumni program and ensure it continues to deliver value for years to come. Remember, it's not just about maintaining connections; it's about nurturing a community of professionals who share a bond with your organization.
Read more in our article on how to manage an alumni network.