How To Pivot Your Alumni Outreach Strategy To Support Business Recovery

by Alumni Content in Corporate Alumni, Crisis Management   |    Last Edited: 21st November 2020

Understandably, business recovery is on just about every business owner’s mind at the moment; there is little that COVID-19 has not impacted in some way. Temporary business closures are turning into permanent closures throughout the U.S. and job losses are at a level not seen since the Great Depression. Times are dire, and the human impact of a corporate alumni program has never been more pertinent.

The impact of 2020 has reshaped alumni relations in a big way. Alumni community managers (CMGRs) who had carefully plotted out their outreach strategy at the beginning of the year suddenly had to rethink just about every aspect thereof. Just like the various business divisions have had to pivot at the drop of a hat, adopting an agile approach to how they support and serve employees and customers, CMGRs have had to plan and implement a new way forward for their alumni network. 

How To Tailor A Pandemic-Proof Alumni Outreach Strategy That Supports Business Recovery

1. Reassess The Needs Of Your Community

Assess Alumni Community Needs

The crisis that has followed in the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic has derailed business in many ways. The needs of alumni communities have likewise changed. For one thing, the progression from being an employee to becoming an ex-employee has been sped up unexpectedly for lots of highly prized individuals simply because their companies were not able to keep them on.

Many business owners have been put in this terrible position of having to make people redundant, and some have taken this time to be really honest and reach out to ex-employees who are floundering in the wake of being laid off. Instead of leaving them to their own devices, an alumni platform can be used to regularly reach out and keep them informed of business recovery initiatives.

For example, one of EA’s clients’, a company CEO is scheduling a weekly webinar in which they explain how the company is adapting its approach and which skills may be required by the business in the future. Now that everyone is working remotely, there are new skills that need to be hired for, skills that didn’t exist before. It could be tech support for Zoom and Microsoft Teams, or digital people who can help with recordings and video media.

In instances like these, an alumni program can help to connect your hiring team with ex-employees who may have had one role in the company by day but were pursuing things digital media or podcasts in their free time.

The key lies in taking a good, hard look at how the post-employment landscape has altered for your alumni and how you can help them to navigate this space.

2. Adapt To Address The New Normal

In times of crisis, it’s vital to tie a community together, and this goes for alumni networks as well. People recovery is as important as business recovery, and now is the time to help each other. Where your outreach program was previously mainly focused on networking, after reassessing the status quo, you may now find that there is an increased demand for mentorship opportunities, etc.

Alumni As A Resource During COVID

Use these insights to offer your alumni connection opportunities and resources that speak to their new normal. For instance, you could provide employees who have been made redundant or furloughed with the opportunity to upskill. This could be in the form of learning management systems, discounts with online universities, etc. See how you can support them and put it into practice.

3. Be Completely Alumni-Centric In Your Approach

Now is the time to think outside of the box when it comes to engaging with alumni groups. People have been hit hard by the fall-out of the pandemic, and the last thing they are willing to do is to expend energy on a platform that has very clearly been tailored for the benefit of the company only.

Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. is a great example of a company that is going out of its way to keep its newly retrenched alumni in the fold. The global hospitality group has been forced to implement mass layoffs, and it is likely going to take years for the hotel industry to recover back to the occupancy rates.

In order to support their alumni, they are going out of their way to assist them in their job search and see them re-employed. They have been so employee-centric in their approach that they are using their reach in their ecosystem to inform prior employees of new job opportunities, even if it is with their competitors or one of their vendors. Their main focus is to help their people, even though they aren’t on the payroll.

4. Be Creative In Your Implementation Strategy

Adapt To New Business Normal

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in many alumni program budgets being cut, which means there is likely not going to be a lot of funds available to roll out a brand-new strategy. However, pivoting does not need to cost your company a lot of money if you focus on engaging your alumni with meaningful content and helpful ways in which to connect with the company and one another.

For instance, retirees who have had experience working in your industry in times of crisis can be called upon to share their particular expertise with younger employees. By creating a space where these generations can intersect to take value from a socially distant engagement opportunity such as a Zoom call or podcast, an alumni community can be strengthened from the inside out.

Final Thoughts

Business recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis does not have to be an insurmountable task. Calling on an alumni network to support recovery initiatives and using this platform to connect retrenched or furloughed personnel with opportunities can make all the difference.

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