In a competitive economic climate, professional service firms need to capitalize on any edge they can and are finding rich resources when leveraging their alumni network.
Alumni programs have become a crucial way for professional service firms to develop new business, strengthen their brands and recruit the best and brightest. Alumni can become brand ambassadors for a firm, referral sources for new business and references for new hires or “boomerangs” that return to a firm.
Here's a checklist to help you start building your own successful alumni program:
1. Pay attention to your firm culture – Is your firm conservative or progressive? Do you like to take risks or do you want to maintain the status quo? You’ll need to consider the culture at your firm to determine the best tools to use to engage your alumni.
2. Engage your alumni in person – There’s nothing better than face time. Build your program around a series of events alumni can attend throughout the year. Happy hours, special family-focused events, receptions and parties as well as continuing education programs are all great ways to engage alumni.
3. Stay connected – To keep former employees involved, reach out to them with a specialty publication that offers alumni profiles as well as news about the firm. You can build your alumni network with a directory that can be available in print or online or even develop your own social network for alumni to meet and stay in touch.
4. Take ownership – To stay focused and ensure the success of your program, you’ll need to decide what department at the firm takes ownership of the program. Alumni outreach could fall under the purview of marketing, HR or IT. Consider the way your firm is structured and the outreach you’re planning to identify what group should manage the program.
5. Measure your efforts – Before you even implement your alumni program, be sure to set objectives. Do you want to increase brand awareness or boost referral sources? Once you know what your goals are, you can identify the most appropriate metrics for measuring the effectiveness of your program.