How Do You Develop a Wildly Successful Alumni Relations Effort?
Ask most alumni relations professionals the secret of success and they will have a common refrain.
They will tell you that best way to create a group of engaged, committed – and generous – alumni is to begin with a group of engaged, committed students.
So, to develop a wildly successful alumni relations effort, aim for a wildly successful student experience. One thing to keep in mind is that they are students for one to six years and alumni for the rest of their lives, yet it is their years on campus (or perhaps online) that form the foundation of their relationship with the school.
Some schools already do this well by integrating alumni into orientation activities, hosting an alumni event early in a students’ campus career, help students in study abroad programs connect with alumni in other countries, connect students and alumni for career mentoring, and working with student clubs. Some schools co-locate alumni relations and student affairs teams.
And it doesn’t stop there. It continues throughout the rest of the student/alumni lifecycle. How and what are you communicating to alumni? Are you letting them know about what is happening at the school now – both the good and the bad, and what plans you have for the future? About what other alumni are doing? About current students? About the faculty and/or research? About some of the history or trivia about the school – and how it laid the foundation for the institution’s current culture and success? About how they can become involved with the school now?
In the public sphere, what are you saying about the school. Are you using words and stories that resonate with alumni? Would they recognize the place you describe?
And how about admissions? What are you doing in admissions that will ensure the long-term success of the students and the school? Are you screening for fit – academic and cultural? Are you looking for students that actively participate in their communities and show a proclivity to engage and contribute? Will these people thrive in your environment and become lifelong ambassadors for the school?
Read more: Inside Higher Ed