Managing an alumni network

How To Boost Retention In Your Corporate Alumni Program

Six actionable tips to help Community Managers prepare for and see better corporate alumni retention in their business's network.

You’ve got C-Suite buy-in, invested in an alumni platform, and invited former and current employees to join the program.

Excellent! As the Community Manager, you’re now warmed up for the real leg work: to ensure your network stays engaged to guarantee corporate alumni retention.

After all, a network is only as influential as its members. Add to that the fact that these people have left the business of their own accord, and it’s clear that you have your work cut out. That is to say, if your network is to work for you, it’s time to develop a strategy to show them the value they can get from participating.

Build An Alumni Community, One Member At A Time

Community building expert Richard Millington, whose clients have included Google, Facebook, and Oracle, believes thriving communities are built slowly and methodically, one member at a time. He writes in The Proven Path:

Building communities is important work. I say that with all seriousness. You are building potentially life-long connections between people, creating friendships. You’re giving people a group identity and social connection that they might be lacking in their everyday lives. You’re building social capital that can be used to achieve really amazing things.

Reasons Why Alumni Networks Fall Risk To Failure

You don’t have the right tools – to effectively manage a program and ensure alumni retention, you require a dedicated platform or channel to house it.

Why Alumni Programs Fail

If your alumni platform has limited capabilities and isn’t scalable or doesn’t provide a personalized, consumer-grade experience, its members have less motivation to stick around.

Your program doesn’t add tangible value – if you’re sending out the same information to everyone or not showing members precisely what’s in it for them, they may well leave the community. No one is interested in receiving just another newsletter broadcasting meaningless updates. 

You go in without a strategy – every community needs purpose. Without a strategy, you lack direction and insight to actively engage members. If there’s no consistency, outcome reporting will be without a baseline, and it will be challenging to measure the value this program adds.

You don’t tap into your network’s total power – when you show alumni what’s in it for them, they are motivated to help you achieve your business goals in return. You can use the platform to support recruitment, corporate diversity, business development, investor relations, and brand advocacy from within.

Six Ways To Boost Corporate Alumni Retention

1. Create a Great Onboarding Experience

Seamless onboarding will set the tone for member engagement and retention. Part of this is celebrating their induction into the alumni network and engaging with them as though they were your best customer.

2. Personalize Content and Interactions

Every user requires a unique digital experience, which is why you need to create ‘customer personas.’ 

For example, this could be to evaluate your alumni from a generational perspective; interns to retirees and everyone in between. Or according to the position they hold, be it in accounting, business development, or product growth.

Alumni & ERG Groups

Delivering personalized content and interactions that appeal on a personal level will boost alumni retention in a way that few other actions can.

3. Involve Members With Referral and Mentorship Programs or ERG Groups

Did you know that some of the leading business initiatives alumni drive relate to diversity & inclusion, sentiment perception, recruitment, and referrals? That’s why a program that actively engages its members in these endeavors is worth its weight in gold.

The quickest way to understand the value of referral programs and rehiring alumni is to look at some data from alumni programs globally:

  • 72% of past employees would return to the company
  • 24% of leavers regret their job change
  • Alumni and Alumni Referral programs can fill 20% of your external hires annually
  • Returners (boomerangs) have a 44% higher retention rate over three years
  • Alumni rehire is the primary source of quality hires

4. Allocate Members With A Dedicated CMGR

An alumni platform without a Community Manager (CMGR) is like a ship with no captain; it’s without direction. To ensure alumni retention, you need a CMGR that actively manages the relationship between your organization and its ex-employees.

A CMGR manages the alumni platform, curates content, compiles news and newsletters, engages on social media, and organizes events. They are responsible for devising a strategy that incorporates creativity and engagement, and measure data generated by the platform. They use this to customize content, fill gaps, identify talent for the business, and achieve company goals.

5. What’s In It For Me (WIIFM)

No two people are alike, so a strategy that works to lure one person to your program might not work for another. An attractive WIIFM proposition demands that you have a good understanding of the ex-employees values, wants, and needs. Here are a couple of ideas to get you started:

  • Mentorship opportunities
  • Corporate incentives and benefits
  • Sign-up rewards
  • Recruitment bonuses
  • Access to training
  • Content promotion
  • Tailored news content
Seamless Onboarding

6. Collect Feedback

An enterprise-grade alumni platform will provide you with program data from the online systems that your employees and alumni interact with. But there’s nothing like a personal touch to get feedback.

Ask your alumni directly – via a survey or poll – what their most pressing professional needs are. Prompt them for ideas on how you can assist them personally or professionally. Ask them what they need help with or how the alumni program could be of more value.

And that most valuable question of all: what do they need that they can’t get anywhere else?

Final Thoughts

Now that you have some insights on how to boost alumni retention, it’s time to evaluate your current efforts against these benchmarks.

Your top priorities should be to keep it personal, keep it agile, keep it active and engaging, and measure every move you make. This will give you a rich, dynamic, and vibrant alumni community that supports your business.

For more information on how an alumni program can work for you, get in touch with the EnterpriseAlumni team today.

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