The former Managing Director in Citibank’s Corporate and Investment Bank shares his experiences building the company’s EMEA alumni program.Read more
What Does Corporate Alumni Engagement Look Like In 2021?
Pointers on how corporate alumni engagement changed after the pandemic caused every aspect of business to tailspin.
Looking back to 2020, it was a year of rapid reform and digital acceleration. With just about every aspect of work launched into a tailspin, corporate alumni leaders had little choice but to adapt the way they engage their networks.
When the pandemic struck, in-person events and meetings off the calendar; there was, all of a sudden, a genuine need to rewrite the manual on corporate alumni engagement. It was a time to find innovative solutions to connect people, connect work, and connect customers.
Fast forward a year, and we can reflect on the changes in how businesses go about nurturing relationships in their corporate alumni network; that is to say, what does corporate alumni engagement look like now?
What Does Corporate Alumni Engagement In 2021 Look Like?
Looking at the bigger picture within the state of work, many businesses have introduced new digital tools into the mix. Various drivers have prompted this, two prominent ones being the need to manage a distributed workforce that’s no longer office-based, as well as to shift focus toward the social aspect of work interactions.
Much of this can be applied to interaction with alumni in 2021. There is an emphasis on the digital meeting space and on the importance of crafting engaging and unique online experiences for each person in your network.
There’s Significant Emphasis On User Experience
The past year has highlighted the need for business tech to put the user experience at the forefront of developments. It’s a concept echoed by Josh Bersin, who, in the context of Human Resources software and applications, recognizes the most significant shift in the digital tools on the market is from HR technology to work technology.
What this means is software applications are aligning with the changing trends. To give you context, emerging HR Tech categories, according to Bersin, include platforms that tackle Diversity & Inclusion, Wellbeing Management, and Workforce Productivity.
Quite simply, if your online platforms and apps aren’t useful and allowing your alumni to get things done, don’t expect them to be used.
Customer-Support For Alumni Programs
Many businesses recognize the importance of offering alumni an experience equal to customers. A result of this has been to provide dedicated support for their alumni programs. More and more, we are seeing dedicated community managers overseeing these people networks, with their sole responsibility being the task of corporate alumni engagement.
Alumni networks are no longer the responsibility of one person in HR working on the program part-time. Instead, we’re talking dedicated teams tasked with creating networks that serve both the business and people residing within them.
Personalized Online Interaction Is Here To Stay
Forget a one-size-fits-all approach: alumni expect a tailored program experience that is utterly relevant to them. The onus is on the business in question to use software that can do just that. Judy in New York doesn’t want a list of job opportunities spanning the entire country. She’s only interested in listings for the state where she lives or has been researching a move to.
The problem with not personalizing the user experience is disengaged people won’t log onto the platform. Instead, they will find another that adds value. If you aren’t offering up content that alumni members want, you're wasting their time.
Virtual Events Are Still Popular
Corporate events, fireside chats, organizational meet-ups: all were drawcards for ex-employees and a major driver of corporate alumni engagement. While COVID-19 put an immediate halt to in-person events, it did pave the way for virtual events by way of replacement.
For this year, virtual events are still the preferred format for gathering alumni. This may well continue even when in-person events are on the cards again, mainly because doing this digitally has opened up opportunities, with businesses seeing the benefits.
Not only are community managers attracting a larger alumni audience to their events, but it’s also possible to host guests who would not previously have been able to attend due to distance. Add in the fact that costs are lowered, and it’s clear that CMGRs can do more to really add value by bringing together the right people online.
Community Managers Are Empowering Community Interaction and Collaboration
Every digital platform your alumni use is pursuing their attention. So, if one platform isn’t actively engaging them, they will move off to another. While social distancing is keeping people apart, the urge to forge honest connections online with like-minded individuals is strong.
What this means for community managers is a renewed focus on driving engagement, encouraging collaboration with members, and actively asking for their feedback to continuously improve the platforms. Instead of acting as the disseminator of information, this person is now the driver of interaction at the grassroots level.
Essentially, corporate alumni engagement in 2021 more closely involves alumni taking active control in the way they interact with the platform and people on it, over being passive receivers of meaningless platform notifications.
Platform Integration Is Important
Another downfall of businesses moving to a digital space is the idea of app fatigue. This is becoming evident as we watch these new digital trends play out in front of us. Users are overwhelmed with the burden of the various platforms while keeping conversations, meetings, and networking going through multiple platforms.
This highlights the importance of app integration to allow users to manage their workflow more productively. You can bet that it applies to your alumni platform too, which is why EnterpriseAlumni can integrate with all of the major systems most businesses use to match the changing digital work environments in real-time.
The sudden shift to digital workspaces in the past year has come with its opportunities and challenges.
Overall, technology is getting smarter and more personal to meet the demands of the end-user. To see corporate alumni engagement, you will have to get personal and give your network a say in what they can get from the network.
For more information on how an alumni program can work for you, get in touch with the EnterpriseAlumni team today.