The former Managing Director in Citibank’s Corporate and Investment Bank shares his experiences building the company’s EMEA alumni program.Read more
Alumni Engagement Ideas To Drive Value For Your Professional Services Business
15 Alumni engagement ideas for Alumni teams to ensure that the talent pool is ready to serve the needs of the business when called upon.
There is infinite value in an alumni program. The investment in your business’s former employees produces a treasure trove of boomerangs, potential referrals, brand ambassadors, customers, and project workers for better business intelligence.
However, alumni have to know what’s in it for them to make the relationship with their former organization a good use of their time. Value doesn’t simply arrive on the doorstep; it’s a game of give and take. Those who are quickest to step up and be part of your business solutions will be those who are kept engaged.
Naturally, the absence of their name on the door means that engagement begins in your corporate alumni program. Alumni teams have to come up with alumni engagement ideas to ensure that the talent pool is ready to serve the needs of the business. Getting out of the starting blocks means dismissing a one-size-fits-all strategy and assessing the expectations of the various stakeholders at an individual level, though.
Achieve Desired Business Outcomes Through Engaged Alumni
When alumni are engaged, they can help achieve specific organizational goals, whether it’s re-hiring former employees to close a skills gap, finding qualified volunteers for a charity project, or establishing a connection at a major net new business prospect to get a foot in the door. This talent pool is famously under-utilized with alumni teams and organization heads not extracting the full available benefits.
But, outcomes depend on strategies to bring it all together. Ex-employees don’t recommit to their former company without motivation spurring them on. And motivation doesn’t always come from sending out the odd newsletter or inviting alumni to the occasional reunion.
Instead, motivation has to be experienced from both tangible and intangible sources. Babak Armajani, Co-Founder and Chair of the Public Strategies Group, suggested that employees (in this case former employees) are motivated by rewards that are:
Extrinsic and intrinsic
Idiosyncratic being that different people are motivated by different things. Motivation, therefore, needs to be tailored to the individual and avoid a one-size-fits-all approach. Based on their position and circumstances, people respond better when motivated with rewards matched to their needs.
Extrinsic rewards are awarded to the person by someone else. It could be by the organization, former colleagues, business mentor. They could be discounts programs, recognition awards, having a question answered; these are both tangible and tangible.
Intrinsic rewards come from within: they are self-motivated by feelings of accomplishment; by overcoming personal challenge; and by experiencing an increased sense of belonging and responsibility. For alumni, this could be a contact request for mentorship, or being an active member of the organization’s alumni community.
Rewards, like everything, cannot take a one size fits all. That is unless it’s the welcome to the network exclusive club reward.
Alumni and Rewards
Taking from the insights above, begin devising alumni engagement ideas by answering this pertinent question:
What rewards do alumni care about?
More than that, what rewards do they care about at different stages in their alumni program journey?
Weigh up the value you want to draw from them. Does the reward warrant the interaction you are pushing? Reciprocation will be measured according to the weight of the ask and the reward, the individual, their generation, their career.
Are touchpoints and data being tracked by AI to devise personal offerings uniquely relevant to them in return for their time, whether it’s discounted offers at their favorite restaurant or the opportunity for mentorship with an influential business head within the organization?
Our research shows that alumni are after value. They are after Alumni2Alumni business opportunities; to network and attend corporate events. They want to stay connected so they can leverage niche company expertise from mentors at the organization.
When looking at rewards, our research highlights that they are more interested in continued education and opportunities over generic resume builders, contextual and relevant news over general news they can find elsewhere online. They are also inclined towards being recruited as a passive candidate rather than browsing a feed with the latest job openings.
15 Alumni Engagement Ideas
Offering a tangible reward to signup to something or perform a first interaction – sign up to the alumni program to get access to exclusive access to tailored products and discounts.
Answering alumni questions or promoting their content across the network to get recognition within the community.
Pointing alumni in the direction of community projects run by the organization. Volunteering fulfills intrinsic needs to provide a sense of accomplishment.
Organizing firesides to bring together people of similar interests who can benefit from the alumni interaction.
Bringing up opportunities for mentorship by matching alumni to relevant business managers or leaders.
Setting up a panel event that focuses on topical areas of interest for a specific alumni group.
Incentivizing alumni for successful recruitment referrals they pass on to the organization.
Extending the white glove service to alumni who are both passive candidates and potential boomerangs to bring back into the organization.
Asking alumni themselves to become mentors for your current employees and provide career guidance.
Passing on valuable first access discounts received from the organization’s customers or suppliers.
Inviting alumni to an annual charity event that senior heads drive or attend personally.
Including alumni in invitations to offers on education or training that supports business objectives and is extended to current employees.
Making introductions to recruiters who reach out to fill specific positions within their network.
Sending out exclusive alumni swag to get your brand name out and provide a reminder of the community connection available.
Ensuring that your alumni team is continuously segmenting data to provide the most relevant and personal experience to each person on the program.
The Make-It or Break It Of Engaging Your Alumni Community
The golden rule of alumni engagement is to build ideas, actions, and rewards around alumni needs. Motivating participation gives the business the ability to draw upon the knowledge, relationships, skills, and organizational familiarity of their alumni army.
Furthermore, it’s impossible to engage the entire army with the same approach, so targeting segments of alumni at a time instead of as a whole is the only way to achieve the desired progress.
To learn more about how EnterpriseAlumni is enabling the world’s organizations to manage and engage their former employees to drive business outcomes, please get in touch.