Launching your alumni platform: 10 essential tools to engage and retain your members

With the multitude of tools available today, launching your alumni community is easy. But attracting and retaining members is another challenge altogether!

You need a global vision and a long-term strategic plan. The best way to do this is, of course, to ask your community directly. Understanding their needs and expectations is a daily challenge, both when you launch your network and as it develops. However, there is a solid base of services you can offer that are sure to win over your members. Here are the top 10 tools for building loyalty in your alumni community:

  1. Students and graduates directory
  2. Event management
  3. Creating groups
  4. A mobile app
  5. A Career Center
  6. Discussion forums
  7. A mentoring programme
  8. News from the network
  9. Online payment
  10. A good deal space

 

Lancer son réseau alumni avec 10 outils

 

1 – Your online directory

The online directory is the beating heart of any alumni community. According to a study by the American Alumni Council, 82% of alumni consider access to a professional network to be the main added value of an alumni community. It helps maintain a strong link between members by facilitating the search for professional and personal contacts. According to a study by the Association for Alumni Professionals, online directories increase member engagement by an average of 20%, by offering easy access to a valuable network. A treasure trove that used to be mailed out in hard copy every year!

 

2 – Event management

The organisation of events is crucial to animating a community. A survey by the Association of Alumni Directors reveals that face-to-face events increase member commitment to a community by 30%. This is all the more true today with the return of face-to-face events and the need of the younger generation to get together. Increase the number of points of contact with your members through your regular events such as the Gala, graduation ceremonies, class anniversaries, etc. And above all, give your members the opportunity to be autonomous in creating meetings.

 

3 – Group creation

Groups allow members to come together around common interests (like clubs), geographical regions or promotions. They encourage engaged discussion and reinforce a sense of belonging. A survey conducted by LinkedIn in 2018 shows that 60% of users find professional groups useful for discussing topics specific to their industry. Even better, it’s also a way of highlighting your community on a whole range of subjects! EHL, for example, has 72 groups dedicated to the countries and regions where its members are based. What’s more, these groups are autonomous and managed by ambassadors selected by the network’s management.

 

4 – A mobile app

Having a mobile application dedicated to the alumni community has become essential. This accessibility strengthens the commitment of members by facilitating participation in events, interaction with other alumni, and access to various professional and academic resources. Some networks use it for their events, for example, by automatically generating the ticket to be scanned onto members’ phones. In this way, the application becomes a key vector for community development, by adapting its offering to today’s lifestyles.

The AlumnForce little extra

All AlumnForce partners automatically receive a free mobile application as soon as their platform is launched.

 

5 – A career center

Careers are at the heart of alumni concerns. Your career centre must bring together targeted job offers specific to your members’ professions. It’s also your best weapon for getting your students and recent graduates into work. According to LinkedIn, 70% of jobseekers in 2020 will have found their position through their network.

As well as being a traditional job board, your career space should also be a place for exchanging knowledge. In fact, it should support your alumni throughout their career, offering advice on career management, professional reorientation and skills development. It responds to a growing need for continuous training, in a job market where pure skills become obsolete after 3 to 5 years. A study by Dell and the Institut du Futur predicts that “the ability to acquire new knowledge will be worth more than the knowledge already learned”.

 

6 – Discussion forums

Exchanging ideas and sharing experiences are vital in a community. The AlumnForce forum allows rich and varied discussions, contributing to the dynamic of the community. MIT research shows that active forums improve member engagement by 21%. They provide a space for sharing knowledge and encouraging members to contribute content. In a way, this is an extension of the previous points.

 

7 – A mentoring programme

Mentoring plays a key role in the professional development of alumni. Some networks, such as Sciences Po Lille, facilitate contact between alumni and students to exchange advice and experience. Mentoring puts experienced members in contact with new graduates or students, encouraging the sharing of experience and professional advice. It’s also an opportunity for alumni to come back and give time to the institution that trained them. With mentoring, you give your members the means to help each other!

The AlumnForce little extra

With AlumnForce, you can easily commit your members to different types of mentoring. Mentors and mentees can choose the duration of their relationship, whether it’s 1 hour (flash mentoring), the time it takes to solve a problem (Meet & Share) or to enter into a long-term relationship (classic mentoring).

 

8 – News from the network and its members

Attractive, regularly updated content is essential to capture members’ attention. The Content Marketing Institute claims that 72% of institutions see an increase in engagement thanks to the creation of regular content.

Sharing network news, member success stories and important institutional developments keeps the community informed and engaged. So it’s important to keep the life of your organisation alive, both through its news and its members. An alumni will very often be delighted to be able to paint a portrait and share their experience.

 

9 – Online payment

The digitisation of financial transactions is an essential lever for simplifying the management of donations, subscriptions and online payments. In addition, this functionality encourages a significant increase in alumni participation and contribution rates, by eliminating the administrative and logistical barriers often associated with traditional payments.

Online payment features make it much easier for your members to register for events or purchase merchandising, for example. A seamless payment system can increase donations by up to 20%, as shown by a Network for Good study.

 

10 – A good deals section

The good deals area is a particularly popular feature within alumni networks, as it reinforces the feeling of belonging to the community thanks to advantages reserved for members. This space can include discounts on services or products, priority access to events and training, or simply sales between members. It represents a concrete way for alumni to benefit from their network and is often used by students to help each other when they move in or out of campus.

For example, EPP Alumni has a “Classifieds” tab directly on its homepage for the specific needs of its community. It enables practitioners in the network to get in touch quickly and easily to share a practice. Members have a real need to share the costs of their professional premises. It’s up to you to find this common need within your community!

 

In conclusion, the effective integration of the ten tools described is key to the success of an alumni platform project. By implementing these tools, you improve the user experience and facilitate communication within the community. You forge a dynamic and interactive ecosystem that nurtures and perpetuates the value of the platform for each member. In short, you ensure that you succeed in engaging and retaining the members of your community!

 

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Written by:

Matthieu

Matthieu

Je recherche le meilleur de l'actualité alumni pour vous : tendances, bonnes pratiques, guides... Toutes les infos dont vous avez besoin pour apporter de la valeur à votre réseau !

Alumni [a .lym.ni]
Plural noun

1. Graduate of a university / school / training
2. Alumni of a company / organisation
3. Plural of alumnus

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