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We have interviewed Sarah Leblond, INSEEC Alumni association Community Manager who came up with a great idea to boost dialogue and involve Alumni during networking events organized by the association.
Sarah, could you tell us more about your idea?
« To me, there are two kind of events. On the one hand, regular afterworks to have a drink and chat in a friendly atmosphere. On the other hand, networking events which focus on the development of a professional network and which gives business opportunities to Alumni.
Each networking event is « co-presented » by an Alumnus willing to share his/her experience on a specific topic with our community. For example, we often invite entrepreneurs who present innovative management strategies or IT specialists who want to introduce a new technology. What matters is the added value. Speakers can decide to present a product, a technology or a service. It is not about selling a product but rather about sharing a knowledge that might be useful.
So, what is your best practice?
We used to go around the table for everyone to introduce themselves. The thing is that going around a table of over 70 Alumni takes a while and can be rather redundant. To make it quicker, I used to start a timer but it was not helping that much. I had also noted that Alumni would most often introduce themselves by presenting their job position. It ended up with separate groups of « Sales manager », « Marketing Manager » or whatsoever that would not mix!
Therefore, I tried something new in order to bring Alumni together in a different way. Now, when we go around the table, Alumni must introduce themselves quoting 3 things that best qualify them as individuals. It can be a hobby, a skill or a quality.
I am convinced that it is easier for two individuals to create a relation when they have hobbies in common for example. The whole point of this kind of event it to open new horizons and meet people with different points of view.
Our participants are also given a badge. They can choose among 3 kinds of badge:
– Talents (Alumni with a specific skill looking for a position, young entrepreneurs, etc.)
– Experts (Alumni with years of experience with a specific skill)
– Boosters (Senior Alumni willing to help or mentor Junior Alumni – Business Angels, Recruiters)
This is a new way to conceive « networking ». This personal/professional duality (I love kitesurfing and I am an accountant) has made our networking events much more dynamic and enriching.
If there is one thing to keep in mind it would be « always try to improve your offer using your community’s feedback and listen to what they have to say and suggest ».
AlumnForce is a web solution that will help you organize events that bring together and engage Alumni. Check out our community’s best practices and our blog to get weekly new tips!