People spend some of the best years of their young adult lives at college, and there’s no way around that. Students at college feel truly independent for the first time in their lives, are pulling all-nighters to get college assignments are done on time, exams, societies, sport, insane parties, and making lifelong friends.
However, regardless of this deep-rooted loyalty, alumni engagement can be a tricky endeavor for even the most well-connected education institutions. This is partial because many former students consider their alma maters like a relatively short stop on their selected career paths, and the strong relationships dissipate over time. Still, keeping alumni engaged in the digital era is way easier than 30 years ago when colleges relied on snail mail to connect with former students because alumni are a precious asset when it comes to recruitment, fundraising, and retention.
In this brief article, we’ll showcase three of the best practices that can help your institution create and maintain solid relationships with your alumni years after they’ve left your campus.
Utilize An Alumni Management Platform
Social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn certainly do an excellent job at maintaining up-to-date information, but what if we tell you that there’s another digital way that can add even more actual value to your alumni relation efforts. Consider moving your engagement efforts from physical to digital through the utilization of a virtual alumni management software that can help you engage your alumni anywhere, anytime.
This way, your community will gain access to a state-of-the-art virtual networking experience with personalized feed, a robust directory to connect with their peers, and virtual college events, all in one place. In addition, such a platform will offer you alumni access to a diverse network of professional connections and support them with a dedicated platform to highlight their businesses and careers. Moreover, virtual management platforms come with a suite of tools to automate matching and provide career opportunities, advice, guidance, mentoring options, and exclusive access to internships and open positions.
Only Create Content Worth Sharing With Alumni
It doesn’t matter whether you’re engaging with alumni on a dedicated alumni management platform, or social media, you must be creating content that’s worth sharing. To do this, there are a few tricks that might help you create content that clicks within your alumni peers. These include:
- Share photos from alumni from time to time. This will help them feel involved, appreciated, and considered. As a result, they’ll be more likely to engage, share, or retweet those photos and stay in touch with their alma mater.
- Create brand new content about past annual gatherings or memorable events. For instance, share the most epic photos from Spring Break over the years, as this helps to resurface those long-lost memories and reengage with graduates from previous years.
- Don’t forget to ask questions of alumni. The questions don’t have to be profound “meaning of life” questions, but simple questions about the history of the campus or specific professors. You can turn this into a game of trivia or just casual reminiscing about campus life.
The specific content you’ll craft should be calibrated to the brand of your higher education institution. For example, a liberal arts college might focus on sharing content highlighting an alumni’s new publication. In contrast, a career college might focus more on interview tips, job boards, and alumni success stories.
Don’t Forget In-Person Engagement
So far, in the previous two headings, we’ve spoken about digital ways and strategies that take place online to engage with former students and maintain solid alumni relations. Nevertheless, even though digital channels play a massive part in alumni engagement nowadays, there’s a whole other world outside the computer screen that shouldn’t be neglected.
So, if you really want to remind your former students of how much they value your institution, why not bring them back to campus? The smells, sounds, and memories that flood back when a former student comes back to your campus for the first time in years can be the nostalgia bomb you need to encourage more robust engagement and maintain better relations. For example, Yale hosts a tech career day to help former students find their next job, and maybe you can organize something similar on your campus and bring back former students to take active participation in it.
Graduates are the backbone of each higher education institution. They are campus ambassadors, supporters that cheer during sporting events, recruiters helping to place new graduates into jobs, and potential donors. For that reason, you should always strive to create and maintain solid alumni relations with your former students and have an infinite number of opportunities to advance your college programs further.