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8 Best Practices for Successful Corporate Alumni Engagement
The secret to a successful alumni program is engagement. We've compiled the best corporate alumni engagement strategies that are proven to be successful.
In today's fast-paced and competitive business landscape, keeping in touch with former employees is not just a nicety; it's a game-changer. Building lifelong relationships with former employees has a huge impact on various aspects of today's business, such as talent acquisition, employer branding, and overall company growth.
As we step into 2023, the role of corporate alumni relations is more vital than ever. 98% of the Fortune 500 have organization led alumni programs and the number of businesses running alumni programs is growing. Companies are looking for ways to improve their alumni communications to further benefit their recruitment, retention and business development efforts.
Improving alumni communications comes through having a strong corporate alumni engagement strategy. A good engagement strategy stems from knowing who your former employees are, and how the network could benefit them most.
This article offers eight best practices to help your organization unlock the full potential of their alumni networks. With these practices, you'll be on your way to acing alumni community engagement.
Table of Contents
- Understanding the Value of Corporate Alumni Engagement
- 8 Best Practices for Corporate Alumni Engagement
- 6 Strategies for Implementing Alumni Engagement
- The Future of Corporate Alumni Engagement
Understanding the Value of Corporate Alumni Engagement
Corporate alumni engagement involves maintaining strong connections with former employees, recognizing them as an invaluable resource even after they've moved on from the organization. The real beauty of this practice lies in its ability to save companies both time and money.
By nurturing alumni relationships, when it comes to recruiting businesses can tap into a pool of highly experienced, familiar faces, facilitating quicker rehiring when positions open up. They also open a direct channel for alumni to refer qualified candidates for job openings, and for new business opportunities and partnerships. The recruitment and business development opportunities acquired through building a formal corporate alumni program are endless.
Therefore, your corporate alumni engagement efforts yield significant cost savings. A survey which investigated the key components that drive engagement and value in an alumni network found that there are certain engagement best practices which any alumni manager can easily take advantage of. These include creating an interactive interface so alumni can proactively explore, allowing alumni to communicate with each other easily and having an accessible site via web and mobile.
The value of an alumni program today can be understood from the following:
Navigating Market Dynamics
The world of work is rapidly changing, and there is much speculation as to what's coming next. But for now, we’re seeing trends such as the great resignation, layoffs, and talent shortages. For most companies the stats look terrifying. They won’t be able to keep doing business if they can’t get the right employees.
If you keep in touch with your alumni and show them over the years that you’re prepared to support and help them grow their careers, it means when you’re hiring or need some extra assistance (through referrals or even new business opportunities) you will have a massive pool of talent willing and able to jump in.
Keeping Career Opportunities Flexible
A lot of what companies are struggling with is talent retention and that’s not because they're not great places to work, but because the norm has now become changing jobs every few years. That can be for personal development, to learn new skills or discover new experiences.
One major value in an alumni network is that you’re showing your former employees that they have the flexibility to move on and explore, and should they want, to also boomerang back.
Alumni as Brand Champions
Another major value that is heavily misconceived about alumni programs is the power of alumni as brand ambassadors. Your alumni know your business and products better than anyone and people are more likely to their recommendations.
As a marketing technique, you should be using your alumni to uphold your brand's image and reputation. Staying in touch with alumni means your organization will stay at the top of their mind when an opportunity comes up to refer business or candidates.
Acknowledging Alumni Contributions
Your alumni have contributed a lot to the way your company is today, from business operations to company culture. By accrediting and rewarding your alumni for their work, you are contributing to a positive culture in your workplace, and showing you appreciate and value your employees.
8 Best Practices for Corporate Alumni Engagement
Active and meaningful engagement in corporate alumni networks provides mutual benefits for both organizations and alumni network members. Companies benefit from a talent pipeline of known and trusted individuals, ensuring a smoother onboarding process and reduced recruitment costs.
Alumni, in turn, gain access to a valuable professional network, mentoring opportunities, and potential job referrals. This engagement fosters a sense of belonging and a culture of lifelong learning, ultimately benefiting both parties by enhancing the organization's success and personal career development.
In How to Build a Corporate Alumni Network we see that when just starting an alumni network two of the most important things to consider are the alumni platform and target demographic. When considering best practices for engagement, you want to make sure you have an alumni software that enhances communications with alumni, and that you understand the target demographic you are trying to reach. Once you have these two things, you’re ready to start putting into practice corporate alumni engagement strategies.
The 8 best practices that we have determined for you to succeed in corporate alumni engagement efforts are:
1. Initiate Engagement from Day One
Your corporate alumni network shouldn’t be kept a secret. Already from onboarding the alumni network should be presented as a tool designed for the employee's benefit. Make sure your employees know that joining your organization will have a huge positive impact on their entire career.
When employees are familiar with the network and what past employees have gone on to do after leaving the organization, they are going to be excited to join this community when it is there turn to leave.
2. Leverage Specialized Alumni Management Software
Alumni management software is designed for you to create an engaging alumni community. Make sure you are using all the tools given to you by the software to create a fully engaging experience for your alumni. You can find more details on the alumni engagement tools you should be using, such as event and group features.
3. Articulate Mutual Network Benefits
The most common question from your alumni that you need a clear answer to is, what’s in it for me? Make sure you offer alumni benefits and there is a clear incentive to join. You can make your network more attractive with these alumni incentives and joining initiatives.
4. Deliver Tailored Experiences
Remember not all your alumni fit in one box. You have hired multiple professionals for a range of different jobs who have all moved on to different career or retirement paths. If you create individualized experiences, that means people only see content relevant to them, they are likely to engage.
Using features that allow you to group different professions or departments will help you to personalize the experience.
5. Organize Regular Alumni-centric Events
Alumni events are the key for boosting engagement. Alumni love a good catch up and the opportunity to network, which they get to do easily at events and get togethers.
Events can be anything from webinars, seminars, parties, dinners, drinks and more. Variety is best so you can attract all your alumni based on their interests.
6. Create and Distribute High-quality Content
If your alumni program is bringing people content that interests them, they will engage and keep returning to the site. This could be in the form of blogs, social media posts, newsletters or videos.
One piece of content that is always a winner with alumni is alumni stories, as its always fun to see what former colleagues are up to.
7. Use Data to Make Decisions
Keep track of key engagement metrics to make sure your strategy is working. If you can see less interest in certain topics or content types, then improve those content pieces, or invest more time into other areas which are seeing a higher success rate.
8. Facilitate Knowledge Exchange
You want your alumni program to give value to former employees, which can come from knowledge and learning initiatives. This could be in the form of mentorship schemes, thought leadership pieces, interviews and the ability to communicate between fellow alumni with ease.
6 Strategies for Implementing Alumni Engagement
Implementing innovative strategies to boost alumni engagement is essential if you want to gain the numerous benefits that corporate alumni networks offer.
Boosting alumni engagement creates a win-win scenario for both organizations and their valued alumni network. To highlight the benefits of effective alumni engagement, consider that boomerangs hires have a “44% higher retention rate over 3 years” and “companies with a recruiting driven Alumni Program can fill up to 20% of all open requisitions via Alumni”.
Successful strategies for implementing alumni engagement are using targeted messaging, involving alumni in work-related events, such as mentoring, or guest speaking and making sure your program is adaptable and pro-actively asks for feedback. More strategies include:
1. Maintain Consistent Engagement
Make sure your alumni program is always updated and current, and that your alumni hear for you consistently so you’re top of their mind when an opportunity comes up that could benefit you.
2. Allocate Resources for Alumni Support
Every organization runs their alumni program differently, but we’ve found that having a designated alumni community manager helps a corporate alumni network take off. In addition, the alumni manager should have support from executives, events, marketing and HR departments.
3. Encourage Feedback
Having an easy way for alumni to leave feedback allows you to constantly improve the alumni experience and create the best possible environment your alumni can benefit and grow from.
4. Tailor Messaging for Different Alumni Groups
Each of your alumni groups or demographics might have different interests, and it is your job to tailor content, events and messaging to be inclusive and relevant to all your alumni.
6. Incorporate Alumni in Current Activities
One major benefit of keeping in touch with alumni is mentorship and learning opportunities. We strongly advise you not to keep your alumni separate from current employees, but rather encourage the bond and growth opportunities between the two.
The Future of Corporate Alumni Engagement
When looking to the future, alumni networking is going to be the key for your business development and success, as companies will have to stay agile and adaptive to the latest workforce trends.
It is absolutely crucial to get your corporate alumni engagement strategy on point. If you don’t believe us, look at these employee engagement stats “organizations with high levels of employee engagement saw a 20.1% growth in revenue over 3 years, which is 2.3 times higher than the average growth rate of 8.9%”. A report from Gartner shows that the recruitment will be increasingly more demanding in coming years.
So, if you have the right alumni software, resources and understanding of how important alumni actually are, you are on your way to building a successful network. For more ideas to build a succesful alumni network read this article on managing an alumni network.