We’ve experienced the re-imagining of Higher Education with many practices being embedded in the system and Alumni playing a pivotal role in the growth and development of the Institution. How a higher education institution engages with its alumni is increasingly becoming important, as a thriving Alumni Community continues the Legacy of the Institution.
The cooperation between the Institution and its alumni also facilitates academic-industry connections enabling the exchange of experiences and knowledge sharing, thus affirming the relationship between Alumni engagement and Institution building. Alumni with a stronger sense of belonging to their alma mater are more likely to give back to their alma mater. A steady engagement with Alumni is valuable to the strategic growth of the Institutions. Here are 8 key benefits a strong Alumni Network comes with.
Having realized the expansive worth, Institutions are now exploring innovative and effective avenues for Alumni Network building and Engagement going much beyond the conventional routes. With the experience of helping 1000+ institutions in fostering Alumni Relations, we’ve come up with the best guide to building a powerful Alumni Network for your Institution.
The fundamental step to start with is building a comprehensive database for alumni networks. A well-built database is crucial for maintaining connections, and provides a centralized repository of contact information, allowing you to reach out to alumni. It serves as an investment in establishing and nurturing long-term relationships.
Here are 3 methods for database building, all of them related to how can you reach the critical mass and sustain:
- Branding Alumni Method – Every institution takes pride in acknowledging its Alumni across the globe, tracking down their Alumni who are scaling up, branding them as distinguishable and notable Alumni, and allowing them to share on their social media handles by running a campaign. This helps in generating awareness and successful Alumni with a knack for being branded get registered with the platform.
- Mentor Program Method – Alumni can offer valuable mentorship to current students and this can help in database building as well. People who are valuable/ have relevant experience help current students by mentoring, finding 4-5 Alumni from each department who could be mentors, and getting students signed up in their pre-final years. This mentor list keeps adding and is a good valuable data asset that attracts more Alumni to become mentors.
- Champions Network Method – A personalized invitation, people they know asking to sign up works better than the institution. Find out champions from each batch/chapter/department and run an Alumni Ambassador Program making them the admins of social media groups. Also called the Batch Captains Method, this program would help in the improved connectedness since you’re building more owners in the community, streamlines communication and encourages Alumni to sign up.
Structure an Alumni Association
Most of the thriving institutions have a pattern of the Alumni Association that they follow. Here are a few insights about how you can structure yours to leverage value from it.
This is a typical structure that can be followed, however, the specific organization can vary significantly based on the institution, the goals of the association, and the preferences of its members. To learn more in detail on how to form an Alumni Association, read HERE
Once the structure is established, the next step is to engage them. Due to the networking landscape and communications shifts, maintaining a perfect relationship has become challenging these days. Here are 2 key factors that can help you drive meaningful engagement:
- Interactive Platform – A dedicated space for Alumni would encourage them to share their stories, discuss current happenings, and make connections fostering a sense of community and aiding a better engagement. This enables peer-to-peer interaction as well. Also, an exclusive platform would be a starting point for a strong online presence.
- Create and utilize Social Media Handles such as Whatsapp, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram to connect with alumni. Identify interests to bring out the real value of Alumni engagement and building designated groups. Encourage alumni to engage in conversations and showcase the power of joining the Alumni Community by helping them leverage the benefits of Networking, Career advancement, and Alumni Services through Reunions, Webinars, Professional Workshops, etc.
Alumni help in building the institutional brand and the institutions are in pursuit of devising their own strategies for Alumni Engagement. Here are a few best practices to take note of – Read Here
Configure a framework – As the engagement is initiated, the future task is to keep continuing and improving the same by creating a culture. This helps in building a competent Alumni Network, which can be done by reinforcing the value to your Alumni and staying committed to certain practices like :
- Reunions, Webinars, and workshops – Organize reunions chapter-wise or batch-wise, sessions and virtual conferences tailored for the Alumni giving them more networking opportunities and helping them in making informed decisions about their future.
- Alumni services – Provide long-term benefits to the Alumni like higher education discounts and lifelong learning. Encourage the continued use of campus services like Library access, Alumni cards, etc.
- Career Growth – Offer career support and mentorship opportunities to alumni. Establish career services that provide job postings, career counseling, resume reviews, and networking assistance. Encourage alumni to volunteer as mentors for current students or recent graduates.
Measure the progress – Assessing the performance and outcomes of strategies implemented through the process is as important as building a strategy. Identify measurable Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) like Alumni registered, engagement through reunions/mentoring sessions, Job postings, etc., and analyze the same. Regularly review, and adapt your strategies as needed and ensure that the measurement process aligns with your institution’s goals.
Building a powerful Alumni Network for any institution is definitely not a one-day task, it takes continuous efforts but it comes with better returns on time and investment. Involves mammoth work, and when broken down into stages, it becomes simple to understand and adopt. These steps provide a basic outline on which you can start working and can be followed despite diverse factors like the size of the Alumni/Alumni Team/Institution.