Alumni networks: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Handsome – « Beauty equal goodness », whether you agree or not with this quote, you definitely need to develop an official website with an up-to-date design to make a positive first impression and attract visitors. No one wants to browse an outdated website and it will attract more visitors if it fits on all devices (responsive design).
Teammate – Even though it is not Blondie’s best virtue, he does know when it is preferable to team up to get better results. Alumni networks should work side by side with the School or University (data base, communication, events, etc.) to bring the community together, attract students and promote the training’s quality.
Good aiming skills – To get right to the heart of you target, you should keep in mind that each Alumni generation has its own needs and expectations. Junior Alumni are likely to be interested in career development services (job center, trainings, mentoring programs, networking events, job fairs, etc.). On the other hand, senior Alumni are more likely to expect business or teaching opportunities, retraining programs, friendly events with former classmates, etc. Segment your audience and target members with services in line with their needs.
Greedy – The gold fever is easy to get! Of course you can/should rely on contributions and donations to ensure your network’s sustainability but keep in mind that for each charged service, Alumni expect to get an equal added value. Therefore you should not waver to invest to get exclusive services for you members (official website, full-time or part-time staff members, communication tools and campaigns, qualified speakers at professional conferences, etc.). Divide and rule: diversify your financement sources (company sponsorship, online shop, regional subventions, etc.).
Lack of empathy – Alumni networks’ one true meaning is to support members of one united community throughout their life and to promote mutual help. Alumni can recruit or mentor junior Alumni, share knowledge and speak at professional conferences, give access to their address book, support projects (business angels). They should be encouraged to do so by their Alumni network!
No name – The Bad is also known as « Angel Eyes ». Focus on one unique official name! This also applies on social networks (one official page, avoid multiplying groups). An Alumni network should develop its very own identity with a name and a logo. This identity should remind of the School or University’s identity to let members know the Alumni network is a branch of their institution (or at least working side by side) with the same primary and secondary colors, similar graphic layout and vocabulary, etc. If your network is composed of various groups, each group could have its own logo with a design similar to the global network’s design.
Backstabbing disorder – In most cases, working against the School or University’s interests is working against your network and its members’ interests. Do not forget the old saying « United we stand. Divided we fall ». You will get more results if you support the institution’s communication (do not organize Alumni events at the same time as the institution). Avoid dividing your audience, focus on how to bring them together!
Hyperactive – Communication is good (publish fresh news on your website, reply to post on social networks, share publications, etc.) but over-communicating is « ugly ». Find the right balance for your communication campaigns, avoid daily emailing and newsletters but be active and proactive. How often should you send newsletters? Listen to your members’ feedback to get it right and only share relevant information.
Big ego – For this one, we would recommend you to act just like the Ugly. Be proud of your network and do not underestimate its power. You would be amazed to see what a team with motivation and stamina can achieve!
« There are two kinds of people in this world, my friend… »
…successful Alumni networks and networks that can improve their strategy !