When someone decides to leave an organization — whether the employer decides the employee no longer is needed or the employee decides they want to leave — you lose a talented individual and you lose their knowledge! One way to show appreciation and keep them connected to your company is to build an alumni network.
Alumni networks can bring significant value to companies. The more engaged the alumni, the more likely companies will achieve higher brand loyalty. Past employees will promote the company even when they no longer receive a salary, which makes for good employer advertising.
These alumni networks can also be an amazing hiring tool for getting new candidates or even getting returning employees to apply. Deloitte even offers cash bonuses to corporate alumni who refer successful candidates! Hiring returning employees who come back working for you with new skills and experiences can be extremely beneficial. It costs half as much to rehire an ex-employee as it does to hire a new person. Re-hires are 40% more productive in their first quarter at work and they tend to stay in the job longer. Research suggests that the average Fortune 500 business could save around the US $12 million a year by actively recruiting alumni.
Some companies, such as LinkedIn, use their alumni networks as a testing ground for new products and services.
Sounds good? Then let’s get started! Here are 6 steps to set up and make an alumni network work:
1. Create a project plan and add the following to it
- Define the goal of the alumni network
- Think about the criteria your organization wants to use on how to decide who the members will be
- Decide how you want your members to engage. Is it going to be formal or informal?
- Who is going to be the stakeholders helping you to make this a success?
- Are you going to give incentives or rely on the intrinsic motivation of your alumni?
2. Find the right platform you want to use as an alumni network
You can create an alumni page on Facebook or LinkedIn for free! These platforms have some nice features such as setting up events or polls that will help you to engage the members. We suggest Facebook & Linkedin because they are already used by a lot of people everywhere, so the adoption rate will be higher than just other unknown platforms that they will not use very often!
3. Create a content plan and add the following to it
- Figure out which content you want to share with the alumni network, such as job openings, pre-product releases, Throwback Thursday posts, share alumni successes…
- Look at the best times for posting on the network to get the most engagement
4. Set up some rules & guidelines
Setting ground rules and guidelines are important to keep the alumni network safe & a pleasant environment for everyone. Some rules & guidelines can be:
- Don’t share sensitive information with our competitors
- You can be critical, but not negative. Use clear argumentation to back up your point of view
- Don’t hesitate to share! We love to hear your ideas, favorite memories, and latest updates!
- Have fun in this group and stay connected with each other
- Turn on your group alerts so you are always up to date with the latest posts
- Make everyone feel that they are still a part of the family even though they've left the house!
5. Set up networking alumni events & give other benefits
Engage your alumni group by hosting (virtual) networking events. Your alumni are busy professionals. So make it worth their while! You should provide networking opportunities to your members as an exclusive benefit for being alumni. But think as well about other exclusive benefits such as special discounts or prizes to win.
For example, Citi has more than 17,000 alumni in 113 countries around the world. The alumni network gives the former employees benefits such as museum passes, tickets to sporting events, and even merchant discounts.
6. Encourage managers to get involved
The final and one of the most important steps is to encourage your organization’s managers/leaders to take part in making this project a success. Have them attend networking events or let them write posts in the alumni group to keep the engagement high. This gives your alumni the chance to network with people they may not have had access to before!
Learn which extra steps you need to take for a more smooth and effective offboarding process by reading our Offboarding guide: How to create an effective offboarding process or request a live demo of our platform!