The former Managing Director in Citibank’s Corporate and Investment Bank shares his experiences building the company’s EMEA alumni program.Read more
The Job Of An Alumni Network: Ensure It’s A Value Driver For Your Community
Tips to ensure that your alumni network is a value driver for the people in the alumni community - because engagement doesn't simply happen on its own.
When your alumni join your community, consider their reasons why - what goals do they want to achieve? Or in other words, what was the value driver?
You might consider the role they are hoping your community to fulfil; for example if they're looking to find a job, is the alumni platform the best solution to meet this task? What makes it different from the careers site, or consulting a friend?
Or if they're looking to find other alumni in PR in Los Angeles, is this platform the best tool for that job, or is LinkedIn better?
Building a successful alumni community is only possible when you view its members as individual. This is when the network becomes a value driver for your community (and, in turn, your business), instead of just a series of unopened emails in their inbox.
Flourishing alumni networks do a few important things to drive value and engagement for their communities. Take a leaf from their playbooks by reading up on these tactics below.
10 Ways to Turn Your Alumni Network Into A Coveted Value Driver
- Create an inspirational narrative
- Line up a loud and proud executive champion
- Have a summary of program benefits to hand
- Leverage internal resources
- Use data to find out what your alumni need
- Offer unique and inspiring content
- Be vocal about alumni achievements
- Host interesting events
- Come to the table with CSR
- Don’t be afraid to experiment
Program Value Drivers For Your Corporate Alumni Community
1. Create An Inspirational Narrative
Your corporate alumni can become some of your most powerful brand advocates if they have the right stories to tell.
Provide them with the tools to weave an inspiring narrative by sharing accurate, engaging information on what your company is up to. Create content that explains new products and services and other internal changes and improvements in a way that speaks to them.
You need to ask yourself what they need to know and how you can inspire them to share it with the right kind of people (for example, prospective new clients) in their respective spheres.
2. Line Up A Loud and Proud Executive Champion
One thing that almost all of the most vibrant alumni communities have in common is a very vocal internal champion who is completely sold on the unique benefits of the program.
This executive sponsor leads the way in rallying excitement about the community among C-suite decision makers, securing budget and resources which can be passed onto the community manager.
With the right resources and internal backing, the CMGR is empowered to create outstanding campaigns and initiatives for a thriving community.
3. Have A Summary Of Program Benefits To Hand
Always be ready with an elevator pitch that illustrates the benefits of your alumni community clearly and in no uncertain terms. And when we say elevator pitch, we mean something like a colorful infographic rather than lengthy reams of text, to get the message across easily.
Ideally, you want two versions of this one-pager – one aimed at internal stakeholders and the other at prospective community members. Although these benefits may overlap, some may be more relevant than others, depending on which side of the fence they're on.
4. Leverage Internal Resources
Your existing employees and other internal business stakeholders need to be sold on the program because they need to help you to promote it.
Once you have buy-in from these important factions, lean on them for ideas and support. For instance, employees can be tasked to keep an eye out for alumni achievements and nominate them for props on the alumni platform.
Some incentives may need to be in place, but this type of support can make all the difference when a program is in the beginning phases and you don’t yet have a lot of human resources to call on.
5. Use Data To Find Out What Drives Value For Your Alumni
If your alumni network consists of 10 ex-employees, it’s simple enough to ask them what they need from the program.
However, if your business spans various continents and has hundreds or thousands of alumni that live in different countries and speak different languages, it’s a whole different kettle of fish.
Gathering data through surveys and other avenues, such as platform engagement metrics, can be very helpful in determining the value drivers that motivate people to engage with the platform.
6. Offer Unique and Inspiring Content
Populate your platform with content that your alumni will not be able to find anywhere else. Don’t be put off – this does not have to be as difficult as it sounds.
For instance, you can take news snippets that are relevant to your industry and reframe them in a way that highlights the aspects of the stories that are most pertinent to the readers of the platform. This way, you can provide your readership with a useful overview of the news that interests them without them having to sift through various news sites. It’s a great way to get them to check in once every week or month.
7. Be Vocal About Alumni Achievements
One key message that has to be reiterated constantly is that you value your community members. A good way to do so is to celebrate their achievements publicly.
For instance, when you create a post on your platform about the promotion of an alumni member in their new company, it becomes clear that a relationship with your company definitely extends beyond the exit interview.
8. Host Interesting Events
Move your network from the digital page into the real-life sphere as often as you can. Tailor interesting networking and knowledge-sharing events where alumni members can engage with one another, as well as other interesting role players in your industry.
9. Come To The Table With CSR
Extend opportunities to engage in rewarding Corporate Social Responsibility events. Invite alumni to the fundraising walks or runs, volunteer work, or charity auctions that your current employees and CSR community are involved in.
10. Don’t Be Afraid To Experiment
The only way to find out what works for your community is to be proactive and try new things. A vibrant, engaging conversation is not going to spring up overnight. You need to offer your community members a variety of options that invite them to engage.
It’s often when you think outside of the box and go beyond the standard cheese-and-wine mixer or reposted LinkedIn thought piece that you stumble upon engagement gold. The only way to know if a wild or unconventional idea might work is to put it into practice and measure the response.
Your alumni want to know WIIFM – what’s in it for me? It is possible to turn your alumni network into a coveted value driver by offering your community members something completely unique that they can’t find anywhere else. Treat it as a community, instead of an operational tool, to reap the rewards of true engagement.