7 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Launching a Corporate Alumni Program
In recent years, there has been a rise in top organizations around the globe establishing formal corporate alumni programs. However, it comes as no surprise that building a program from the ground up may result in a few hiccups along the way. Mostly, this comes down to a lack of resources with relevant experience, and the unknowns that surface during the planning stages - you simply “don’t know what you don’t know.”
As an established Corporate Alumni Software vendor, IntraWorlds has had the privilege of working with numerous organizations globally and has gained first hand experience in alumni program launches. In the end the alumni programs are successful, however, a few lessons were certainly learned throughout the process. In this article we will share with you a list of the 7 most common mistakes organizations make when launching a Corporate Alumni Program and how to avoid making them for your firm.
1. Lacking adequate resources
Although advances in today’s software help to minimize many time consuming and tedious tasks through automation, the overall project requires a human touch. From establishing the framework of the network, to actively creating content, having adequate resources devoted to the program is a key piece of the puzzle. Top organizations today are taking advantage of the IntraWorlds | Alumni Management Services Solution, which helps firms to maintain, update and improve their platform in order to minimize the manual labor and maximize the benefits of the network. Appointing dedicated personnel, and/or employing an alumni management services solution such as IntraWorlds, is important in order to drive optimal engagement results.
2. Requesting leadership feedback too late
Receiving leadership feedback plays an important role in the outcome of a newly established alumni network. A mistake commonly made by organizations is failing to ask for leadership feedback early on. Alumni platforms such as the IntraWorlds | Alumni solution, have advanced technical capabilities which are customizable per organization, therefore, establishing the requirements that are specific to your firm, along with the overall look and feel of the platform, requires input from the top. Involving your firm's leadership from the very initial stages, through to the launch of the program, is imperative in order to avoid making timely and costly mistakes, and/or oversights.
“No organization can perform at peak levels unless each employee is committed to the organization's objectives.”
-European Journal of Business and Social Sciences
3. Overloading your program offering when launching
With endless software capabilities, organizations have the tendency to feel the need to utilize all functionality, and by doing so, they end up overloading their program. Not all features are necessary for every organization and by overloading your program, you run the risk of not only delaying your go-live date but potentially confusing your users and administrators. In order to avoid a negative user experience, an optimal solution is to launch with only the functionality that is essential for your organization, and as the program evolves and matures over time, add features which will enhance the user experience and overall success of the program.
4. Mistaking your alumni for a marketing channel
One of the primary reasons for organizations to establish an alumni network is to increase business development opportunities by creating effective brand ambassadors. However, how an organization approaches this effects the firm's bottom line and the overall success of the program. Organizations have the tendency to mistake their alumni for a marketing channel by bombarding them with unrelated, impersonal content, which leads to a lack of engagement and overall interest in the program. The ultimate goal is to create a value proposition that's aligned with the interests of your alumni and the strategic objectives of the organization.
“88% of companies say they’ve realized a measurable lift in business results from personalization of marketing campaigns and content.”
5. Failing to portray the value for alumni
When launching an alumni program it's important not to overlook the value in communicating the benefits for the alumni themselves. In order for your program to be successful, alumni require one key question to be answered - "what's in it for me?". Whether it be in having access to the alumni directory as a means to easily, and effectively communicate with former colleagues, or the ability to receive automated notifications regarding best-matching jobs, communicating what alumni will take away from the program is equally as valuable as outlining what's in it for the company. Both parties need to see the value of the alumni network in order for it to operate efficiently.
6. Making the experience not user-friendly enough
In today's digital world, a user-friendly alumni platform plays a pivotal role in increasing conversion rates and ultimately creating a positive user experience. Top organizations recognize that alumni appreciate an intuitive, mobile-responsive interface that guides them towards content that is of interest to them, rather than a busy-over-complicated, and impersonal design. This is significantly important as it effects the alumni engagement and ultimately the value of the network. Creating a user-friendly platform, with engaging and personalized content is essential for driving success.
“79% of digital device users would stop engaging with content if it doesn’t display well on their mobile device.”
7. Executing an impersonal exit interview
How an organization handles the exit process when an employee leaves, is critical. When executed properly, employees will be incredibly receptive to joining your alumni network, and the opposite can be said when it is handled poorly. The most successful organizations recommend establishing an in-person, one on one, meeting to explain what the alumni network is, how the registration process works, and what the benefits are. Some organizations go a step further and introduce the alumni network during the recruiting & on-boarding process. When that process is in place, employees are already familiar with the network during the exit interview, and thereby, are more likely and eager to join and engage with the platform.
Are you looking to jump-start your firm’s alumni program and want to avoid these common mistakes along with others? Check out our guide on “How to Successfully Launch a Corporate Alumni Program”. Or feel free to contact us, we’d be happy to discuss your alumni program goals and how our software can support your firm!