How To Survey Your Network To Supercharge Alumni Engagement

by Alumni Content in Corporate Alumni   |    Last Edited: 02nd December 2020

A powerful thing for businesses to do when they are looking to supercharge engagement in their alumni networks is to survey the people in them. Essentially, conducting an alumni survey is a complementary method of assessing the impact of your engagement strategies and works alongside the data you collect from the online systems, including your corporate alumni platform and ATS, that alumni interact with. 

When it comes to your network of ex-employees and contingent workforce, it is the engaged people who are willing to jump on board when there is a project that needs fulfilling for the business. They are the army you can count on to send an employee referral, introduce a business contact, become a customer, act as a brand advocate, and much more. Knowing how to communicate with them and ensure their needs are addressed is critical.  

Now, staying in touch with employees is much simpler than with alumni. The latter have no obligation to respond to any communication you send their way. It means that taking a human and personal approach when you reach out to survey your network is non-negotiable.

What Can You Do For Your Alumni?

 Do Alumni Want

Today, some of the world’s leading organizations recognize the unlimited potential lying within their alumni networks. It is a talent pool of resources to draw on, and the benefits of keeping in touch with the people who have opted in for it are manifold. As a result, more and more businesses are investing in their alumni programs and platforms. 

But when you are in charge of managing a network whose numbers can extend into the tens or even hundreds of thousands, how exactly do you communicate with all of the members effectively? How do you construct the type of interaction that can help you to build a better community? You can bet that the bulk email you sent in the past didn’t solicit much response or interest, and it is time to reframe that approach. 

Instead of asking alumni what they care about in an alumni platform, understand their unique needs. Ask questions such as: 

  • How can we help you personally or professionally?
  • What do you need assistance with?  
  • How can the alumni platform be of value to you?
  • What do you need that you can’t get anywhere else?

Framing it this way will keep your alumni coming back to you as you supply them with something they want. You cannot create another platform that they sign into just to be met by a few generic notifications relating to something that they are not interested in. 

How To Survey Alumni

Engagement looks like delivering a list of job opportunities to the person who has been furloughed during COVID. It doesn’t include sending an invite for a tech webinar to a person who was in accounting, even when they have opted to receive event invites. There needs to be clear motivation for participation in the network that shows them, what’s in it for me #WIIFM?

Why Engage Your Corporate Alumni Network?

There is immense value and ROI to be taken from an alumni program, notably:

  • Companies with a program outperform those that don’t – 2.8x increase in revenue per employee, 4.5x increase in product innovation, 6x increase in employer attractiveness
  • 44% of net new business includes an alumni
  • Alumni improve brand sentiment by 10%
  • As advocates, they are worth 5x the value of an average customer
  • Up to $5m in savings based on a rehire rate
  • Boomerang employees have a 44% higher retention rate over 3 years
  • 73% of ex-employees are willing to do project work
  • 46% of millennials are open to returning to a former employer

5 Tips On How To Create The Ideal Corporate Alumni Survey

1. Identify Survey Objectives

To have an effective corporate alumni survey, you need to be clear about what you are trying to achieve with the information that will come back to you. 

Are you surveying employees because there are upcoming events, and you’re unsure of whether they should be held online or in-person? 

Or are you wanting to dig into the employee experience from a source who is not afraid to point out your shortfalls? 

Whatever the case, this information is your starting point for designing the questions in a way that puts alumni’s needs first.

2. Design A Survey That People Want To Participate In

Generally speaking, surveys are more effective when they: 

  • are anonymous
  • are not too lengthy
  • focus mainly on closed-end questions
  • ask questions that are neutral and not leading
  • provide a balanced set of answer options
  • only ask for one answer per question
  • save the open-ended questions for the end

You also need to clearly outline what the information that people are submitting will be used for. No one willingly spends their time answering questions for fun; it will have to contribute toward a purpose that resonates with them.

Design Feedback Form

3. Offer Incentives For Participation

To encourage participation in your alumni survey, offer an incentive for completing it. It helps to emphasize the value that the responses will provide, but you need to ramp up interest with a reward for the person’s time as well. We have mentioned alumni needs being foremost earlier; there has to be a clear demonstration of the value in it for them.

4. Analyze Responses, Benchmark Data, Discover Key Learnings

Once results start coming in, it’s time to dissect them. If you have done previous related corporate alumni surveys, benchmark the data. Share the insights with upper management, department heads, and alumni team where appropriate. 

Take the learnings on board, and consider what new practices or changes you can implement to provide a better space for your network.

5. Communicate Feedback

The buck shouldn’t stop at you. After receiving and analyzing the responses, you now have information that you can take action on. 

Send a follow up to your network with details of the information gathered from the survey. It won’t always be about celebrating the wins either – improving engagement also involves acknowledging your shortfalls and outlining what you plan on doing about it to better serve the needs of your alumni.

Conclusion

Getting feedback from your alumni network about their overall happiness and satisfaction with the program is key. Otherwise, you run the risk of heading up a program that is weighted too heavily in favor of the business. Unfortunately, that won’t do much for engaging the people who have already walked out your door once before. The success of any strong relationship relies on the premise of give and take.