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How alumni networks boost your organisation

Jun 07, 2019

Sign the ‘goodbye’ card, contribute to the leaving present, and even make a meaningful farewell speech, but don’t forget one of the more essential tasks – get contact details of employees who are leaving your company, explains Robert Gibson.

One of the smartest things you can do when someone is leaving your organisation is to get their contact details. Networking is one of the most useful ways in which a company can spread its reach to bring in more business, and the pool of former employees is one of the more accessible networks.

Reciprocal benefits

A healthy corporate alumni network is a valuable resource for bringing in new business opportunities and referrals. It also demonstrates a sound company ethos; people want to work with others who value relationships and what can display that more than a company which keeps in touch with former staff long after they have left their employ?These former employees may be able to promote future talent towards the company and can market the former employer's brand just by being part of its alumni network. Who better to endorse your company than a former employee who still feels closely connected to the business?

The alumni, on the other hand, gain the reciprocal benefit of advice, business knowledge, and even job and promotion leads. ‘Boomerang’ workers may return with the benefit of new experience, enhanced skills and an increased pool of business connections. Research shows that it costs half as much to re-hire an ex-employee as it does to recruit a new one. Organisations that are clear about leaving the door open to employees on their way out are more likely to benefit from those who may return in the future, armed with new experience and contacts. Most of us have a few colleagues that we have worked with in various capacities in the past, and often those are solid relationships with a shared history.

Alumni social network

An active social media platform is a must for an alumni network, as well as attractive and well-organised events to maintain contacts. Communication is essential for business intelligence on new practices, emerging industry trends and competitive information. Grassroots business gossip emerges from both social media and face-to-face contact. When planning your external communications, don’t forget to include alumni as a key stakeholder group. Alumni events tend to be amongst the most engaging, fun and interactive in your annual calendar of events.

Helping everyone’s future

So, at the end of someone’s time in your organisation, a good-natured and generous-spirited leaving ‘do’ can help everyone’s prospects. Make sure to wish them good luck, grab their email address and number and enjoy some time together before you’re no longer colleagues and become network connections.

Robert Gibson is a Director of Audit and Assurance in Grant Thornton Northern Ireland.