Alumni relations for business development

December 02, 2015

One of the main benefits of establishing a strong alumni program is the potential of new revenue derived from referrals by alumni to new business. Previous employees are in an ideal position to refer you to new clients, especially if they move on to employment in an industry that uses solutions offered by your firm.

However, to maximize the likelihood that your alumni will bring you referrals, your program must be positioned properly. There are a few important principles to keep in mind if you want to create an alumni program that facilitates referrals for new business.

Use alumni content to market your brand

While alumni programs are a great resource for hiring new employees and providing updates on alumni activity, they also serve as a prime channel for marketing your brand. Think of your alumni program as any other marketing initiative: your goal is to show why your company has the best solution for prospective customers.  The content being used here will need to be marketing content with an alumni angle or focus.

For example, you might write about a company policy or initiative spearheaded by an alumnus that has led to great success. You could write about a specific alumnus who took lessons they learned from your unique way of doing business and applied them to achieve success somewhere else. The idea here is to convey the unique selling points of your brand through information about your previous employees.

Offer something to your alumni

If you want to increase the amount of business referrals that you receive from previous employees, you have to offer them more than just the ability to participate in your alumni program. You'll need to go the extra step to show them that you are concerned about their needs.

This extra step doesn't necessarily require a significant investment of time or money on your part. Something as simple as an offer to grab lunch or a cup of coffee to catch up might be appreciated by your alumni. If you know former employees who are working in business development positions, try to pass along good leads to them as best you can.

Keep in mind that today's alumni pool is larger and younger than it has been in previous generations. As Reid Hoffman points out in an interview with Fortune, some of your alumni may still be in the early stages of their professional career. Individual differences among alumni must be kept in mind while you are thinking about what would be most valuable for program participants.

Listen to your alumni

Your alumni program should never be a one-way communication channel where your organization speaks and alumni listen. The best corporate alumni programs do produce valuable content, but they also act as facilitators of discussions and relationships between individual alumni.

Allowing your alumni program participants to contribute to discussions within the program can help with business development in a number of ways:

  • Alumni will often discuss current happenings in your industry that you might not have been aware of, putting your organization in a better position to respond to the changing needs of customers and prospects.
  • Alumni will see that your company cares about giving others a voice, improving your brand's status and making them more likely to refer you if and when their company needs a vendor who will listen.
  • Alumni will reveal more information about themselves, which you can use to improve your alumni segmentation and provide more relevant content that better engages alumni. More engaged alumni are always more likely to refer new business to your organization.

For more information about using your alumni program for business development, schedule a tailored demo of Insala's alumni software today.

Related articles:

Managing the cultural fit challenge with Alumni recruitment

Employee referrals: The Hidden Benefit of Alumni Relations

Corporate alumni management best practices checklist

Winning the war for talent with alumni engagement

Next level alumni management: growing an existing alumni program

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