6 Ways to Engage an Alumni Network
Keeping in touch with former employees takes creativity, planning, and an understanding of how to get members to interact with each other. We’ve assembled six ideas for consistently engaging an alumni network.
Corporate alumni programs provide value to both the organization and the former employee long after they’ve left the company. A community is a living, breathing entity and needs to be managed consistently – which can be a challenge over time. Here are six tips for actively interacting and engaging with your community:
1. Start the Conversation Early in the Employee Lifecycle
Introduce the alumni network during the onboarding process for employees. This lets the employee know that you recognize some employees may not stay with you forever, but that you value their contributions throughout their tenure and seek to maintain that relationship after they have moved to a different role. It demonstrates a culture of connectedness for years to come, but it also cements the idea early that this will be a community they can use as needed.
2. Bring Incredible Storytelling into the Content Strategy
Keep the flow of content and communication going via quarterly newsletters, articles on the alumni portal and social media networks, and use blogs, video, polls, and other engaging content types to catch member attention. However, the biggest aspect of your content strategy should include great stories about the alumni and what they’re doing now. Also bringing in opportunities for members to meet each other and feel that sense of belonging is hugely beneficial.
3. Provide Opportunities for Learning & Development
In today’s world when people leave a job every few years, employability has become a big concern and upskilling a major focus. Today’s job candidates are turning to excellent training sites such as Coursera, LinkedIn Learning, and other online education sources. One stop should be the learning & development your company offers for employees to be available to alumni as well. Company or industry specific certifications would be great to offer alumni to stay relevant and skilled enough to return to work for you someday.
4. Include Alumni in Corporate Social Responsibility or Social Impact Efforts
One of the four main motivators alumni have for participating in an alumni community is a connection to the company’s mission and values. Invite the alumni network to join in on volunteering events that are open to employees. This creates a win-win-win scenario for all involved, and the result supports a good cause and creates connections with people and their local community.
5. Encourage Employees & Executives to Take Part
Having current company leaders attend events, host programs, and promote the corporate alumni program and initiatives to both current and past employees builds credibility and value into the alumni network. Cultivating this kind of relationship between current and former employees can lead to collaboration and development opportunities, as well as a sounding board for product testing and development. It can be as simple as the occasional note in a newsletter encouraging alumni to get in touch as well.
6. Incorporate Feedback and Measure Activity
It’s always a great idea to ask your community for feedback on what they want to see. This can be done formally in a survey once a year or in short pop-up questions. The feedback you’ll get will be invaluable for future planning and ensuring alumni are interested. Assess the data and adjust your offerings to make sure they align with the company's goals and objectives. One of the benefits of surveying alumni is that it removes the guesswork and gives them what they’re seeking.
Successful corporate alumni programs take time to plan, develop, and build. Effectively managed, they become a selling point in the company’s culture, help recruitment efforts, and talent retention ultimately saving the company time and money. Savvy companies are seeing the value in this 360° approach to employee lifecycles and valuing the experience and expertise that former employees can offer.