The former Managing Director in Citibank’s Corporate and Investment Bank shares his experiences building the company’s EMEA alumni program.Read more
Launching An Alumni Platform: It’s Not If, It’s When
Your focus should be on 'How' to launch an alumni network, not 'If' - for competitive advantage & corporate insights, as well as for community building.
The data is in. Organizations that do not engage alumni are at a competitive disadvantage. Engaging Alumni has come out of the basement as a side project and onto the P&L as a program that can drive revenue and savings - as well as Investor Relations, mentorship, and employee positive sentiment. We know all this and more to be true.
Management consulting slides, HR thought leadership and business language aside, let’s focus on the human side of alumni. On why, beyond business metrics, an alumni community is a critical addition to your ecosystem and is as valuable (if not more so) than your investment spend on recruitment, recruitment marketing, and candidate experience budget.
Because if you take care of your alumni, they will return the favor. They will refer. They will advocate. They will provide a better pipeline of candidate referrals who are more qualified for the roles you are seeking to fill than any careers site on earth. They can refer business to you with an authenticity money can’t buy. They are your most underused and overlooked advocates.
And as for the ‘How?’ - How should you ask people who have left your organization to engage? How can you ensure you offer a platform and experience that compels?
To drive value for you, your organization and your alumni, here are five ways to build a compelling community:
Personalization: Give alumni a personalized experience. Chose an intelligent platform that knows who your alumni are, where they are and what they are interested in. Alumni in Australia don’t want to know about drinks parties in France and seminars in Argentina. Former CEOs need a different peer group to former interns. Retirees are not interested in graduate recruitment opportunities.
Aesthetics: Give alumni a site that looks and feels like the type of visually impressive, aesthetically pleasing consumer software they are accustomed to. Make sure the design is intuitive, the user experience is effortless and the features and functions are relevant and value add. Gone are the days where clunky old software is acceptable.
Engagement: At the heart of the platform must be a strategy to engage alumni with relevant content, opportunities, offers, and events. Going live and expecting alumni to come, simply because you feel they have an affiliation with your company, is shortsighted and lackluster. Launching an alumni network is the beginning – not the end – of a process to provide a reason for your alumni to stay active and participate in your community for the long term.
Authenticity: A corporate alumni network is not an opportunity to share one-way dialogue and content on your organization. These are individuals who have left your company – and what you may think is interesting news and insights may not be as compelling as you think to people no longer working there. Make sure the content, offers, events, and communications reflect that people have many competing demands on their time: simply sharing corporate news is not a recipe for a successful alumni community!
Inclusivity: A community is not a community if some of the community are being left out! If you are an organization looking to create an inclusive alumni network, excluding support staff, graduate interns or certain geographies from a network doesn’t send a very positive message. Do start small with an alumni community and find a group or geography or vertical with whom you can test the platform … but don’t have a long term goal of leaving out groups of people who have been a part of your organization’s history.
Read more in our Guide to Managing an Alumni Network.