Alumni organizations are an important way to continue building and maintaining the important connections students make at university, connections that are mutually beneficial and that will keep being actives within your alumni community. It leverages and expands one of the most important reasons students go to college in the first place besides getting an education — to network with others.
The alumni engagement business is clearly in constant growth. But if your alumni organisation is only asking for contributions, you won’t be able to drive the expected engagement. Here are 5 key steps not to forget when building an alumni social network within your educational institution.
1- Start Early to Connect With Them
Building connections with future alumni while they’re still students, and providing a regular amount of value to them upfront during their scholarship is absolutely crucial. What is your plan for bringing your graduating senior class into the alumni and development fold? You must care about your future alumni while they’re still students. You’ll cultivate their connections to other students and active alumni. If you don’t provide them with value before they ever see an email promoting your alumni events or soliciting for contributions— they will be less likely to engage.
2- Find and Identify The Champions
We call them champions, but they can also be called playmakers or community ambassadors.
When Red Bull swept into the United States in the 90s, the energy drink company followed a smart marketing strategy that alumni organisations should get inspiration from. It involved identifying playmakers. They sent representatives to hang out on college campuses, network with and get to know the students, the ones they could tell would be influencers and leaders, the champions. They would then give them free cases of Red Bull and encourage them to throw a party. Universities or schools may not only want to encourage alumni to party, but first, they need to identify the playmakers (both online and offline) and talk to them. Few platforms like Hivebrite will integrate scoring analytics to identify your platform power users.
3- Recognise Their Valuable Contribution
People want to be recognized. They have a lot of gratitude toward those who recognize their own valuable contributions. The best way to learn the kind of value your alumni and future alumni are creating for the community is to get to know them personally and find out what matters to them. Once you identify that, you can highlight their contribution to the community by empowering them.
4- Nurture and Empower Them
Once you’ve identified the playmakers, talk to them and recognise their contribution, try to find out what they care about most, and help them achieve their goals by nurturing and empowering them. Once you identify what the playmakers are aiming for, give them roles where you can leverage their energy and activity for the good of the alumni network. For instance, create group owners or class ambassadors with extra admin capabilities, invite them to special events like conferences. You can also create dedicated marketing campaigns for them.
5 - Create Connections Between Playmakers
Now that you’ve identified, recognised and empowered the alumni and students champions, you can make meaningful connections between them with complementary knowledge and skill sets to create synergies. This is one of the most important benefits of a solid alumni social network. Now you’re really creating value. Networking value. One way to do this is to facilitate personal introductions at events, but you can also connect playmakers digitally through your online community via groups, job board or with mentoring programs.
Hivebrite is a leading provider of branded community management platforms and helps all size institutions grow and engage their community - Feel free to visit us or request a demo if you would like to know more.