Many businesses view their corporate alumni community as an interesting network with mentorship or recruitment opportunities at best. But in reality, these networks can do so much more. Weaving this community into your company strategy as a business resource represents a significant opportunity to bolster your organization from within.
Here are a few important steps and guidelines to help alumni team leaders use their communities to support various business departments.
5 Steps To Leveraging Your Corporate Alumni Community To Boost Company Strategy
1. Pinpoint Business Needs
Leveraging your alumni community as part of your company strategy starts with identifying suitable business needs. Without a map to guide your exploration, it can be easy to stumble over what’s right in front of you. A tailored approach to strategy and execution can make all the difference.
While Martin Reeves has more insights on the topic of 'your strategy needing a strategy', this is the gist of what you need to know about pinpointing business needs:
- Identify a clear issue; for example, employee retention, innovative ideas to promote business growth, company culture, etc.
- Engage and involve members of your alumni community who can assist in solving the problem.
- Use this success as a case study to bring the alumni program onto the radar of other sectors within the business, further encouraging involvement.
Your main goal should be to ensure that you bring the abilities of your community into alignment with real, pressing business needs. In this way, the members of your community and other internal role-players will be able to see that the community is much more than just a glorified mailing list.
2. Identify Suitable Candidates To Address Each Need
The ideal situation is finding a sweet spot between the needs of the business and those of members of the corporate alumni community. A good example of this golden mean would be an ex-employee with experience in a given field mentoring a rising star in your own enterprise, and promoting the mentor’s contribution on your social channels and newsletters.
However, for this type of crossover to occur, you need a very robust database of member-specific information to draw from. Ideally, you want to ‘map out’ your community in terms of job role, geography, skills, and needs. If you have all this information at your fingertips, it becomes much easier to tap into your alumni pool when you identify mutually beneficial opportunities.
The number one rule for sweetening the deal is to remember that there has to be something in it for the alumni member. Even the most motivated person who left the company on excellent terms won’t be lining up to help you achieve your business goals if you can’t show what’s in it for them.
3. Make The Business Case To Get Approval
Getting buy-in from the c-suite who hold the reins in terms of company strategy can be a tall order. However, when you can demonstrate that there are clear, cost-effective benefits to enjoy when you include your alumni community in company strategy initiatives, the road ahead is golden.
Go in with the angle that alumni members can help organizations to crystallize their purpose. After all, it has been proven that a common, authentic purpose can unite employees in a way that pushes strategic transformation naturally.
The members of an alumni network can provide priceless insight in this regard. By establishing an informal, consumer-orientated layer separate from the day-to-day workings of a formal organization, they bring a clear voice of reason to strategic discussions. In simple terms – they have nothing to lose by being honest. Plus, they know the inner workings of the business because they’ve been part of those workings.
4. Develop Your Strategy
The next step would be to draw up a strategic goal based on the business need you’ve pinpointed and the alumni resources you’ve identified. For instance, you may have identified that you need to attract better talent and that one or more of your alumni members are perfectly positioned to advertise certain choice positions among their personal networks.
In this case, you’d need to follow up on your needs and resources assessment by laying the groundwork for collaboration with the alumni members in question. How will you entice them to play a recruitment role, and what would they stand to benefit from a successful placement?
5. Measure, Measure, And Measure Some More
Understanding the impact of your corporate alumni community on your business strategy necessitates constant measurement. You need to know where you started from to understand where you’re going, after all.
Here are a few important yardsticks that can be used to measure the effectiveness of your community and the way it functions:
- How vibrant is my community? Is it healthy, and does it serve the needs of both the business and the community itself? Track membership growth, site engagement, newsletter opt-outs, etc.
- Is my community relevant? Track how many members are participating in conversations, posting replies, engaging with their fellows, etc.
- Does the community have an impact on my sales and marketing? Track alumni advocacy, the correlation between engagement and recruitment levels, etc.
- Does my community have an impact on business integration and core operations? Track new idea generation and implementation, increase in operation efficiencies, etc.
Once you have the answers to these questions and the necessary measurement tools in place, it becomes a lot easier to gauge strategic impact when organizational initiatives come into play.
The best way to keep your community healthy is to update and adapt your strategy to nudge members up the engagement pyramid. I.e. from observing > following > endorsing > contributing > owning > leading. Is this the case in your alumni community?
Your engaged alumni community is a rich resource of strategic potential. The key lies in tapping into it in the right way so you can use it to supercharge company strategy from within.
The efficient management of human capital, including those employees who have left the nest to pursue other opportunities, should be seen as a vital part of any forward-thinking business strategy in 2020 and beyond.
To learn more about how Enterprise Alumni enables businesses worldwide to lay the groundwork for lucrative alumni relationships, get in touch.