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What is a corporate alumni network and why does it matter to your business?

Corporate alumni networks and communities are networks that help you, your business and your employees to engage with your alumni – your ex-employees. This may sound counter-intuitive – why would my business or I invest in people that are leaving or have left the business?

Well, I’ll tell you why. Because a well-run, managed and engaged alumni network – one which is aligned to your corporate strategy and organisation’s purpose – will deliver results and return on investment for your business.

Let’s consider two well know quotes:

‘Your network is your net worth’ and ‘It’s not what you know, but who you know’.

These two quotes accentuate the importance of community and networks. Yes, it’s important what you know but who you know – through connections in a community or network is of equal importance.

So what exactly is a corporate alumni community?

A corporate alumni community is more than just a group of ex-employees. The strength of an alumni community comes from intention, connection and active engagement.

Why are corporate alumni networks important for businesses?
The saying ‘your network is your net worth’ is equally important to individuals and businesses alike. I am going to touch on the five R’s. These are five reasons I believe corporate alumni communities and networks are so important for your business.

1. Relationships:
Your network is your net worth. The first R is for relationships. Relationships underpin your network and your community. Business relationships – clients, employees, suppliers, alumni – are important. Your business relationships are what keeps your business alive. And your alumni are who know your business best – so maintaining and strengthening relationships with them is common sense – it’s not a ‘cold’ or new relationship and therefore, if you maintain and strengthen those alumni relationships, it will benefit for your business for the next four Rs or reasons:

2. Reputation:
Your businesses’ reputation is paramount to your success. Reputation is built on trust and it takes time to build but can be quick to decline – especially in today’s world where we are all connected online and individuals can leave reviews or comments on social media. Think of it this way, if you are an established business, I would bet that you have more alumni or ex-employees than you do employees. I said before that your alumni are who know you best – therefore having an army of alumni advocates in your markets will serve you and your business.

3. Revenue:
It goes without saying that if you have strength in your alumni network because of the relationships you have with your alumni, and therefore an army of alumni advocates in your markets, guess what? Yes, you guessed it, business referrals will follow. As a business, revenue generation is critical. Personally, I would want to work with people I have trained and invested in and care about – they are your alumni and they now work in your client and target client organisations.

4. Recruitment:
The world of work has changed over the last decade or so. People are more often than not looking for an experience, an opportunity to develop themselves, a place they ‘belong’ but also will be keeping an eye out on opportunities outside of your organisation. Gen X and Gen Z are not looking for a ‘job for life’. As I previously mentioned, the size of your alumni network is likely to be greater than the size of your employee network. You could therefore view your alumni network as a vast talent pool – and one your business should be using – either through direct recruitment or ‘boomerang hires’ or for referrals. They know your culture, they know your business, they know who in their network will also ‘fit’ your business. Using your alumni network as a talent pool reduces recruitment costs – the time it takes to fill a position, the time it takes to onboard them, the time it takes for them to get started – it’s likely they already have a network within your organisation so they’ll be up and running so much faster.

5. Responsibility:
More and more businesses have committed to their social and corporate responsibility duties. From experience, this tends to be focused on getting your employees involved to support local communities or charities. If you have an engaged alumni network, imagine the additional ‘good’ your business can do by engaging your alumni with your vision for corporate responsibility; imagine what more you could achieve and give back? I think it’s important to note here that again the world of work has changed and your future employees will be assessing your business on the ‘good’ it does for society. If you are actively engaging your alumni with your corporate responsibility agenda, achieving greater results, think about what difference this might make on how your business is perceived by future employees?

I am a huge believer in the power of corporate alumni networks. The 5 Rs highlight why your corporate alumni network is important:

No 1. Relationships
No 2. Reputation
No 3. Revenue
No 4. Recruitment, and
No 5. Responsibility

Setting a corporate alumni network up does take time, focus and planning, and at the same time it’s a relatively easy and cost-efficient solution for your business. Your corporate alumni network will be a success and will deliver return on investment if you set it up for success.

Want to know more? Get in touch through www.relationshipsandnetworks.co.uk or on email,
martine@relationshipsandnetworks.co.uk.

About the author:
Martine Davies is the founder and director of Strategic Relationships and Networks Ltd. She has spent her career developing and delivering strategic relationship networks and has a keen interest on corporate and institutional alumni programmes. She is passionate about developing networks which create value for the individuals in the network and provide real results and return on investment for the organisation.

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