« People first adhere to values and projects not to tools. Of course you need to design an appropriate services offer but you should also consider go beyond and give meaning to your network. Your network will represent an added-value if you members feel part of an exclusive community. Make them feel proud about it! All higher education institutions, no matter their size, reputation or location, should work on this issue to make their Alumni network grow stronger. »
Edouard Gassin, Campus Com CEO
During: You might think that because your students are on campus 5 days a week and share common classrooms, they feel like they belong to a community. If the sense of belonging has almost become something natural to top universities and colleges, it is nonetheless something you have to work on on the long term and requires a well-thought communication strategy.
To create a community and bring together its members, you should first work on your « brand » identity. The brand should represent values and ambitions shared by your students and staff community, values that tell it apart from others and make it unique. Your institution DNA should be recognizable and distinctive.
Giving value and meaning to your network, is the key to boost your students and Alumni engagement. You could either collect distinctions and awards, rank 1st in international rankings, foster the students associative activities, support collaborative and humanitarian projects to make mutual help a second nature, etc.
What are the levers your institution can trigger to bring its students and Alumni community together and boost their engagement?
*Involve them in the development of their community
« The more you participate in your institution reputation enhancement, the more valuable is your diploma ». Your institution reputation can be enhanced via an excellent quality of education and high professional integration rates bu also via a powerful and dynamic Alumni network. This is exactly what has understood the Paris School of Business which has decided to include a group of 5 to 10 students within its Alumni association. This students commission’s purpose is to let students understand how valuable their network is and how they can take part in it to make it grow stronger.
*Let your members express what they have to say
What can be improved? What do my students expect from their network? Do they feel enough integrated and taken care of? How can I contact them? The best way to find out is to ask them first! Few institutions take this step and care to gather their students’ opinion before setting up communication strategies that do not include them. Remember to conduct satisfaction surveys and involve your community (feature available on AlumnForce).
* Involve them in your development projects
You are about to launch a fund raising campaign to build new building or invest in new technologies? Your students are your first ambassadors and knew better then anyone how to promote their school or university. They can get involved in communication campaign, organize campus tours, share their experience at students fairs, etc.
* Give them time and opportunities to meet
You will hardly get any results if you do not give your students the opportunity to meet and get to know each other outside the classroom. Be it at professional conferences, network evenings or afternoon dedicated to the associative life, there are plenty of ways to bring your community together, boost mutual help and solidarity. This also applies online where you should develop exclusive services on a private platform.
Find out our two other articles about that subject !