Niamh Madden

After spending time and resources  in attracting, recruiting and training your employees, it can be a shock when they leave. However, by creating a private community for your alumni, it’s no longer a case of “don’t let the door hit you on the way out.” Instead it’s about creating relationships with employees for life.

Many larger professional services and consulting firms (read the McKinsey story here) embrace their alumni networks. There’s a growing trend in building alumni communities through platforms like KonnectAgain to generate rehires, referrals, leads, business opportunities and brand ambassadors.

So, if you’ve invested in an alumni community you’re on the right track. The next step is to make sure it’s a success.

Here’s five ways to drive engagement for a rich and thriving community.

1. Collect data at the door

You may have a list of existing employees’ data, ready to import into your community. If you don’t? Start collecting today. Before employees leave, ask for their personal email address, new role and company name and ask their permission to be part of your alumni programme.

If you’d like to backdate employee information, a LinkedIn search can be a great way to start locating former employees. Not an easy task, but it’s a great way to start gathering the information you need to invite members to your alumni community. They can choose to accept your invitation or not. 

2. Define your goals

Ask yourself why your community or alumni network exists. Your goals will be as specific as your own organisational needs. Are you creating a community to gain brand ambassadors? Or maybe you’ve identified that it’ll be used for recruiting? Set goals early and check in on how you’re doing along the way.

Now set some metrics. If recruitment is your main aim, measure the number of job applications or referrals. If you’re after brand ambassadors, track community growth and find out what content is really driving conversation with your members. Take note of people who are very active in the community - these are your power users who can help you test ideas or create and promote content.

3. Plan your content

What stories do alumni like? Spotlighting your members works well because people love knowing what their former colleagues were up to. You can set up a form or template for alumni to complete and then drip-feed the content back to the community throughout the year. Event photos and nostalgia pictures work very well too.

Welcome every member and send direct messages every now and again. Aim to post regularly and consistently. It’s better to post once a week on the same day, rather than posting every single day for a month and then ending the conversation. Engage with all departments in your company to find out what upcoming news or events might interest alumni. Next, put the upcoming events, stories and ideas into a content calendar so that you’re not scrambling for new content every week.

4. Community vs company culture

While being aware of your brand can make you mindful of what content to post, don’t try to map your community’s culture identically to your organisational culture. Keep it light and fun and don’t be afraid to try and experiment with new content and ideas in your community.

Community management experts CMX talk about how your members will start to identify with the group and may give themselves a collective name or identity. Be open to the content your members post as they will start to define what the culture is like, rather than the community manager setting the tone.

5. Share successes

Remember that project you were working on when you left a company? You handed it over but always wonder how it went? An alumni community is the perfect place to share (non-proprietary!) successes and wins with members and acknowledge the role they played. This will make alumni feel they’re still part of the family.

While sharing success and congratulating, remember that communities are not “launched”, they grow over time. CMX advises it’s important to embrace a bit of radio silence. Members who create content make up just 10% of the community so allow for most members to “lurk” and read, rather than expecting everyone's participation.

Ready to build your own Alumni community? We can help. 

KonnectAgain is an online community platform that helps global companies tap into rich networks of their past and future talent. We help organisations understand why employees are leaving, stay connected with them and help re-hire high performing alumni as boomerangs. This results in reduced recruitment costs, boosted productivity, improved brand culture and a rich talent pool for referrals and boomerangs. Unlike social media, on KonnectAgain there's no advertising, no noise and you control the conversation. 

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