The former Managing Director in Citibank’s Corporate and Investment Bank shares his experiences building the company’s EMEA alumni program.Read more
How To Drive Alumni Enrolment & Engagement with Internal Program Support
Corporate alumni programs can't excel without internal alumni program support. Get tips to embed your program into the employee experience.
No modern-day business can live up to its potential without alumni program support. However, because this process lies on the far side of the employee experience, companies tend to forget one very important thing – getting internal buy-in.
I'm not referring to C-suite buy-in, since you'll need support for the program from an executive-level even before you launch it. I'm referring to internal alumni support from current employees. People who will one day form a part of your alumni corps but are currently still very much a part of the active, day-to-day team that keeps the engine running.
Why Do Businesses Need Internal Alumni Support?
If you work for a software company and someone asked you why you have tech support, the answer would be simple: you have tech support in place to assist your customers. This is the same thing you need to create for your alumni program. Your current employees need to know that it exists, and to understand its value.
If you currently have an alumni program, the important question you should be asking is if anyone actually knows what it does. We put this question to a group of respondents in our 2020 Alumni Survey, and the results were very telling. It showed us why many of our clients weren’t getting the budget, resources, and praise they deserved for establishing and fostering a vibrant alumni community.
In short, their current employees simply did not understand the value the program added to the company. Many of them simply saw it as a fun mailing-list project that HR was running on the side. It is the exact thought pattern that we need to break through.
Your alumni program should be as visible and understandable as any other aspect of your business. Every employee has a comprehension (albeit in broad strokes) of the point of recruiting, support, social media, sales, HR, and accounting departments. If you really want your program to work, alumni support should be included in this lineup of vital business functions in the minds of your employees.
Where To Start?
In order to increase internal value and boost the perception of your program, you should fight for it to be seen as an integral part of the company and included in the day-to-day employee support system. For this to happen, information regarding its successes and functions need to be broadcasted daily in an authentic and compelling way.
Alumni community managers need to see themselves as ad executives for their program. Their goal should always be to increase internal awareness and exposure. The absolute ideal would be that all employees were so innately aware of what the program had to offer that they would naturally choose to leverage it as a resource whenever they could.
How they would choose to do so would depend on the USP of the alumni program in question. Perhaps it could provide them with business insights from retirees or connect them with a cost-free focus group to assess potential new products or services. Whatever the case may be, employees need to know how they can benefit from the platform in order to use it to their advantage.
Once you succeed in making these benefits clearly understood, your lead funnel will automatically widen, as exiting employees will likely be keen to enjoy the advantage of being on the other side of the divide when they move on to new opportunities.
4 Practical Ways To Generate Internal Alumni Program Support Starting Today
1. Discuss It During Onboarding
New recruits should be informed of the alumni program during the onboarding process. This makes them aware that your focus on the employee experience goes beyond the exit interview. That you view your talent as lifelong members of your extended team, even if they choose to leave at a later stage.
They should also be informed of how they can leverage the community in the course of their employment tenure.
2. Publish An Information Page On The Intranet
Publish a page on the intranet that extols the benefits of the program for the organization and explains how employees can connect with the alumni team. Encourage your readers to get in touch if they have a hard time filling a job opening, need a group of people for volunteering purposes, are looking for mentors, etc.
3. Share Wins & Successes Frequently
When someone in your company enjoys success due to engagement with the alumni community, let the rest of the crew know about it. As an example, if the company lands a new contract based on a recommendation or lead from a prior employee, send out the good news. Set the precedent by making these moments to celebrate.
4. Engage Stakeholders Regularly
Alumni community managers should promote their programs with the same vigor as any newly established brand manager would. Take the unique selling points of your program and share them in simple, effective ways.
Create attractive infographics that remind employees of how they can benefit from leveraging the community, e.g:, ‘Did you know we have 2,500+ alumni members who can provide you with valuable feedback on your latest business proposal? Get some valuable advice to up your pitching game by tapping into this rich vein of constructive critique!’
If you want your network of former employees to become a valuable business asset, then internal alumni program support is crucial.
Lay the groundwork for internal buy-in by discussing the program during onboarding and publishing an information page on the intranet. Share wins and successes frequently, and engage stakeholders on a regular basis.
For more thoughts on driving awareness, read How Your Alumni Can Improve Employee Engagement.