How To Build A Corporate Alumni Network: 7 Steps To An Engaged Community

by Alumni Content in Corporate Alumni   |    Last Edited: 17th February 2021

Building an alumni network can seem like a mammoth undertaking, and you would be right to think that. The type of corporate alumni community that drives value and opportunity does not spring up overnight. However, the effort to establish a network of this nature is worth its weight in gold.

Take Uber, for instance. This is a business that operates in 69+ countries around the world and has carried out over 7 billion trips. By 2019, it had generated 14.1 billion U.S. dollars in net revenue. The e-hailing company also happens to have developed from an informal corporate alumni network. Plus, their alumni, in turn, have gone on to found a variety of other impressive companies.  

In short, it pays to keep in touch with ex-employees. The networking potential is astounding. Here’s how you start.

How To Build An Alumni Network From The Ground Up In 7 Steps

  1. Assemble the troops
  2. Choose your platform provider
  3. Get to grips with your target demographic
  4. Reach out to informal alumni networks
  5. Update your exit process
  6. Start marketing and keep at it
  7. Measure your progress and get feedback

Steps To Build A Corporate Alumni Network

1. Assemble The Troops

Once you have your C-suite execs sold on the business case for an alumni network, you need to put the team together who will execute your program. In an ideal world, this will include a corporate alumni community manager (CMGR). Programs driven by a dedicated team have far higher levels of engagement. This is because there is a group of people to take responsibility for it from the start.

How To Build An Alumni Network

2. Choose Your Platform Provider

Next up, you need to find a suitable corporate alumni platform provider. Ideally, you want an innovative platform with scalable functionality that has been tailored to better manage and engage a growing alumni community.

Look out for features like personalized dashboards that provide each user with a unique experience relevant to their requirements. After all, what an ex-intern needs differs from the type of content a 60+ retiree would like to see.

Reporting is also critical. The platform you choose should be underpinned by analytics and reporting capabilities that deliver real-time insight to help you understand your users, how they are engaging with your network, as well as the most relevant activities and content driving value. Bonus points if the system allows you to automate manual tasks and create automated workflows.

If the platform goes further to allow for alumni recruiting, event management, messaging, and advanced search across all devices, you’re setting the stage for long-term engagement success.

3. Get To Grips With Your Target Demographic

Want to know how to build an alumni network? Work out who should join it – ex-employees, retirees, current employees, new recruits, contingent workers, freelancers, contract and seasonal workers could be valuable additions to this community. Each of these groups forms a very important sub-section of your corporate alumni and will have different needs in terms of how they stand to benefit from your platform, how regularly they’d like to hear from you, and so forth.

It helps to create alumni personas that your team can reference whenever they need to tailor content, consider their marketing strategies, etc. This includes information like the alumni’s business struggles and goals, the type of content they prefer (for example, video, templated, comparison case studies, product demos, etc.), as well as persona insights that explain how and where they live and operate in the ‘real world.’

Develop Alumni Personas

4. Reach Out To Informal Alumni Networks

Research to see if there is an existing alumni network – something that perhaps ex-employees have formed themselves. Reach out, introduce them to the formal program, invite them on board, and tell them about the benefits of joining.

5. Update Your Exit Process

Make the process of joining your alumni program an event of discovery. It should be an opportunity to talk about the benefits of staying in touch and finding out what each person wants to get from signing up. Most businesses will spend hours (or even days) onboarding a new hire but tend to consider the exit interview as a small box to be ticked and not much more.

The reality is that it should be treated as an opportunity to pave the way for ongoing engagement with a company asset. After all, you spend so much time training and inducting an employee; why would you let all that investment walk away without finding a way to stay in touch?

6. Start Marketing and Keep At It

Evangelize your network to your employees from the moment they cross your threshold. Include information regarding your alumni community in your employee onboarding process.

Tell your new recruits about the network and how they can benefit from it while working for you, for example, by getting access to mentoring opportunities. But, place equal emphasis on what the network can do when they eventually seek greener pastures elsewhere – general networking, collaboration, boomerang hiring, and so on.

Then, keep at it. Be sure to regularly share information about alumni successes and ways in which the platform is benefitting its members, as well as the business. Keep it top of mind with your current employees and make it a regular talking point in your meetings, fireside chats, internal newsletter, and so on.

7. Measure Your Progress and Get Feedback

Measuring Alumni Program Success

To ensure that your community becomes ever more engaged, you need to measure efforts and get feedback to determine the program’s efficacy. If you chose a platform with the right kind of functionality, a lot of this should be automated and gathered on your behalf. However, don’t underestimate the impact of a well-timed feedback survey.

In the end, the best way to figure out what your community wants and needs from you is simply to ask. Whether you choose to employ pulse surveys that keep tabs on overall network sentiment or want to go more in-depth with longer multiple-choice surveys, the trick lies in keeping the communication constant.

Final Thoughts

Building an alumni network takes time, but if you break it down into manageable steps it does not have to be an insurmountable task. Start by assembling the team who will be in charge of the program, and secure a suitable platform. Then work out who should join the network, and reach out to any informal factions. Update your exit process, market the alumni network, and don’t forget to measure progress.

For more information on how an alumni program can work for you, get in touch with the EnterpriseAlumni team today.