Drop onto LinkedIn and you’ll see something interesting. Some people are so proud of the companies they work for that they still have them in their headlines. Have you ever seen people with titles like “ex-McKinsey” or “ex-Facebook” in their titles?
It’s a really fascinating social phenomenon. In an age of fast work, short tenures, and contracts, there are some companies that garner so much loyalty that people want to keep name-dropping and keep the connection alive, long after they work there.
In academic speak, their relationship with that company builds their social capital. And they want to flaunt it.
These companies have a really great problem. They’ve built such a great brand and culture that former employees want to stay connected, even after they have retired or moved on to other roles.
Enter a corporate alumni network. In this article, we'll talk about what a corporate alumni network is, what type of businesses should be building one, and how to do it. Here's how to create a corporate alumni network.
What is a corporate alumni network?
A corporate alumni network is the relationship employees have with an organization after they stop working there, often formalized into a structured community. More and more organizations are keeping these former employees and retirees connected. This could offer opportunities to connect with current employees, maintain friendships and professional relationships, and even learn new skills or advance their careers.
Employees of large companies – especially ones with a visible public brand – often look for ways to keep leveraging their connection to that company. As we mentioned in the intro, this is the “ex-Google” or “ex-Amazon” phenomenon you see on LinkedIn. These are the types of strong connections and sentiments a corporate alumni network thrives on.
Examples of corporate alumni networks
- Xoogler: The alumni network for Google past and present employees.
- McKinsey Alumni Center: A place for McKinsey alums to keep connected, share job opportunities, and learn about what’s happening with the company.
- GM Alumni Network: Network offering discounts and benefits to former employees of GM.
- Amazon Alumaconnect: The alumni network for Amazon, primarily offering networking opportunities and job postings.
How to create a corporate alumni network
1. Determine your brand’s sticking power
Before developing a corporate alumni network, you should stop to make sure your company needs one. Here are some questions you can ask:
- Do you have a large employee base?
- Do you have a positive brand former employees will want to stay connected to?
- Do you have a large community of retirees who want to keep plugged in?
- Are you willing to keep offering value to former employees (upskilling, job postings, special offers, etc,)?
These questions will help you figure out if your brand is a good fit for a corporate alumni network. And if it is, great!
2. Plan it
If you think your company is a good candidate for a corporate alumni network, it's worth doing a bit of leg work to make sure.
Identify a sample group of current employees, past employees, and retirees. Do some interviewing to see what they are looking for from a corporate alumni network.
- What features would they like the most?
- What would make them most likely to use it?
- How would they most like to access it?
Doing this kind of work from the outset to find your Ideal Member helps to make sure your corporate alumni network can thrive.
3. Choose your platform
Most corporate alumni networks leverage some sort of platform. While keeping in touch by email is a possibility, choosing a professional networking platform or online community engine helps you to build a much better corporate alumni base.
For some organizations, a LinkedIn group might be enough. You can create a corporate alumni group, brand it with your company, and invite your alumni to join. A corporate alumni group on LinkedIn has a few advantages: people already associate it with a professional network, lots of people use it all the time, and it's not labor-intensive on your part.
However, LinkedIn does have disadvantages. There's no guarantee group members will see what you post there, in fact, the algorithm for groups is really bad. This could make it tough to build engagement and long-term stickiness.
The better option for many organizations is to use community software and/or a white-label app builder. With so many great options for community management software, this is a fairly easy solution to roll out. And it will create a much better user experience for your corporate alumni.
We'll talk below about some of the possible platforms. But here is a few things you can look for in corporate alumni software:
- Discussion groups
- Member profiles
- Chat and messaging
- Branding and white-labeling
- Polls and questions
- Live event scheduling and live streaming
- An LMS platform
- Mobile app options
4. Build it
Once you work through what features you need and choose a corporate alumni software, the next step is to build your network.
You can create the network under your brand, offering it as a subdomain of your website if you choose. Add logos, brand colors, and resources to make it your own. And get your space ready to launch!
Remember, most of the people who join your corporate alumni network might come for the goodies, but they'll stay for the connections. Make sure your members have lots of opportunities to connect with each other.
5. Create value opportunities
Once you have people in your network, the next step is to start engaging!
Even posting questions and prompts as little as two or three times a week can create a thriving community. Trust us, we've done the leg work. Many of our most successful communities only post a few times a week.
Figure out how to give your people value. You might consider a cool launch event, for example, that could include interesting speakers. Invite your past and present employees. Help them get used to engaging. Give them a ton of value from belonging to the network.
We have a lot of great resources for growing a thriving community here on Mighty, but here are a few you can start with. We also teach a process called Community Design™ that can help you get it right.
6. Learn and grow
Any community takes nurturing. Your corporate alumni network will be no different. Make sure that you take the time to pay attention to what's working and what's not working. And do more of what works!
You can also keep looking to your members for clues and feedback. They can tell you what's working and what isn't. Plus, a modern corporate alumni platform should give you analytics. This provides you with real, hard data on where your members are spending their time.
4 corporate alumni network solutions
If you're looking for a full guide to corporate alumni network software, we have that here. But in the meantime, here's a quick overview of a few options.
- Mighty Networks. Mighty lets you bring community, content, courses, and commerce together. And our flexible Spaces mix in live events, live streaming, discussion boards, member profiles, and more. It's the perfect place to build and grow a corporate alumni network.
- Mighty Pro. All the stuff you get in Mighty Networks, plus a beautiful, custom-branded app of your own app in the app store. We've built alumni apps for organizations like TEDx and Fortune. Click here to learn more.
- Tribe. Tribe is a discussion software that lets you add a forum to your existing website. If you want to add these capabilities to your corporate site, this could be a good option. You can create member profiles, organize discussions by topic, and add your own branding.
- Hivebrite. Hivebrite is an alumni platform that has a community engine, a content management system, and a basic events platform.
Ready to start?
If you're ready to start building your corporate alumni network, come build with Mighty Pro! We'll work with you to design an awesome app that reflects your brand, complete with community, live streaming, discussion boards, member profiles, and live events built in. We do the heavy lifting, you bring your brand and your ideas.