Right off the bat let's get this straight. A stupid question, it is not. In fact, it's an integral question that any school (or corporation) needs to ask itself when setting up its Alumni efforts:
Should we involve external parties in our interactions with our Alumni?
The answer is never simple and schools need to consider all the pros and cons. Is involving external parties on the discussions really advantageous? And if so, advantageous for who? Or will it just dilute the conversation with the target audience and break down alumni networking opportunities?
The answers are mixed and it is up to the school to decide what's best for them.
Here are the top 3 'external parties' that schools may wish to include:
1. Current Students
This is asked by our clients all the time...do we mix current and ex-students? Our answer...its up to you, but seriously...why not? All the benefits of this arrangement only further encourage your audiences to engage in the network:
- Alumni can mentor your current students through their studies or into the jobs market
- Alumni might even place your current students into jobs or give them internship opportunities
- Current students are engaged early and are therefore more likely to stay engaged after graduation and to give back to the network/school
- It means more attendees at your events...
Just don't over do it, because it may be the case that the current student conversations will overwhelm your key Alumni objectives.
2. Job recruiters and Career Counselors
Schools want their students to excel in their professional lives after leaving. Many top schools have successfully raised their 'jobs upon graduation' stats purely by allowing interested companies and recruiters to interact with their students.
Several of our clients have monetized these interactions by charging the recruiters or career counselors for access to their students. Students are going to stay loyal and give back if they are offered free professional help.
3. Community Experts
Communities thrive when then is a leadership panel and/or group of experts in place to drive traffic and engagement. Whether the discussions are being held at events or in online groups and forums, these 'thought leaders' are looked to for guidance.
They may be the VIPs and guest speakers at your events; they may be faculty heads, or they may be the school's top Alumni with a top job that can mentor and showcase the program. They can be anyone that the school deems best suited to engaging Alumni and driving interaction.
The are many more 'external parties' that can be included in the conversation, but above all, it is important that the interactions with Alumni are not saturated by outside noise. Schools need to find a balance that is right for their Alumni and that suites their own Alumni objectives. Told you it wasn't a stupid question...
Hivebrite is a leading provider of branded community management platforms and helps all size institutions grow and engage their community - Feel free to request a demo if you would like to know more.