What Is Community Engagement (+ How To Implement This In Your Alumni Program)

by Alumni Content in Corporate Alumni   |    Last Edited: 06th July 2022

Community engagement is a vital part of any alumni network platform. At its core, community engagement is the strategic process of establishing and maintaining contact with your pool of alumni, involving them at various levels, and continuously adding value to strengthen your relationship. 

The goal of community engagement is to achieve long-term, sustainable business outcomes, build relationships, create processes, and enable decision-making, all via authentic discourse that shows you are invested and benefits both the alumni and the organization. 

Let’s take a look at the essential elements of community engagement and how you can best implement this in your alumni network platform. 

Community Engagement 101

Define The Purpose Of Community Engagement

Community engagement is a powerful tool that can result in both behavioral and business changes. It improves the health of the community as a whole, and for members on an individual level. 

The partnerships that are created through an engaged community can help business owners to mobilize their resources and influence systems while serving as a catalyst for changing policies, programs, and practices. 

On a basic level, it positively influences the relationships between members and the organization.  

Whether your community engagement efforts are successful depends on a number of factors. The key here is a robust framework of guiding principles and strategies. 

The principles are of particular importance and at its core ensure the rights of all community members are respected and they are consulted, informed, involved, and empowered at every step. 

The range of strategies organizations put in place – enabled through the tools provided by alumni management software – allows them to engage alumni with relevant content, opportunities, offers, and events. 

what is community engagement

Understand Your Alumni Community

The word ‘community’ is a broad term used to define groups of people hosted on your alumni network platform. 

They could be stakeholders, interest groups, or citizen groups. A community may be grouped by geographic location, defined by similar interests, or by individuals who share an affiliation with others in a specific industry.

It may also comprise former employees, contingent and contract workers, and freelancers. Some may even be retirees or interns. 

In large alumni networks, progressive profiling allows managers to create more detailed user profiles, but without violating data protection laws. Through this process, you can capture more granular data than standard data collection could, giving better insight into alumni preferences while remaining empathetic to their needs

On an engagement level, it allows you to deliver highly targeted content, experiences, and messaging to alumni and others in the pool. 

EnterpriseAlumni’s software platform helps keep user data updated through said progressive profiling and via app integrations with leading social media platforms.

How To Implement Community Engagement In Your Alumni Program

Choose The Right Platform

Alumni software (the alumni network platform) provides 80% of the solution for engaging members. 

Integrations, messaging, content management, CRM, reporting, onboarding, offboarding, goal setting, and lead pipelines  – all these are next-generation admin tools that can help you to manage, engage and automate employee and alumni journeys on your alumni network platform. 

They provide a modern, compelling, and ever-changing suite of benefits to engage a diverse alumni community. 

what is community engagement

The remaining 20% comes down to strategy and continuous improvement to drive engagement and enable the platform to run even with little resources and fewer members and managers, while still providing value.

This includes understanding company objectives and identifying how they can be executed within the tool, and how they can be measured and reported on to the community network. 

For instance, the alumni platform must be able to recognize the identity of the user from the last time they used the platform and remember what they used the tool for. 

Community managers must then deliver a unique experience – via events, messaging, and introductions –  to the individual or sub-group, ensuring the alumni experience on your alumni network platform is always fresh and contextually engaging.

Provide A Contextual Experience

A platform that provides a contextual experience recognizes the five generations of alumni – from graduate interns to retirees, and their varying sets of expectations. To this end, every user interaction on your alumni platform has to be relevant to the recipients’ known interests and values. 

Today, people have access to more information, choices, and opportunities, and dictate the terms of engagement they have with organizations. Individuals expect to self-direct their interactions and own or influence more of the technologies that mediate their experience.

How to get ahead of this curve? Alumni software that integrates with leading applications and makes it possible to personalize application experiences with real-time context and user preferences. 

what is community engagement

Engage Former Leaders 

Thought leadership provided by current/former leaders in your company is a high-value resource for engaging newcomers, interns, and those still making their way up the career ladder. 

These groups may be eager to learn from those who made their own success through working from the bottom up and have accumulated vast experience in their respective fields. 

Identify alumni in high-profile or niche positions and invite them to participate in webinars, fire-side conversations, and other sales and marketing activities that can drive personal and business development. 

Practice leaders can also be engaged in mentoring employees by providing guidance, knowledge, and assistance within the alumni network platform.

Always keep in mind what you can do for them in return. Social mentions? Including them in your organization’s hall of fame? Using the tools provided by corporate alumni software, you can run surveys and do progressive profiling to find out how to reward thought leaders in ways that matter to them.

Conclusion 

Outstanding alumni engagement starts with understanding your audience and delivering value through engaging experiences. 

This will help you to build and maintain a thriving alumni community. 

Alumni 2.0 is custom-built software that will help you build a network of engaged alumni and brand advocates that in turn drive recruiting and business development.