Young alumni engagement: Harnessing Generation #ShowMe
CCAeLearning webinar, January 25, 2018
Ben Seewald, Alumni Officer, Queen’s University
Categories: Alumni relations, Young alumni
A scalable, sustainable strategy to engage young alumni (YA) requires a thorough understanding of how YA view your school. Support them as students and offer what they need in the first 5 years after graduation to gain lasting loyalty and affiliation.
Ben Seewald of Queen’s University shared his insights into building a successful YA engagement program from the essential starting point: while future alumni are still students.
- Measure your YA programming against exemplars and peers. Adapt some of their successful strategies to your school.
- Layer a YA element into existing events and programs; provide visibility for YA as leaders / ambassadors at high-profiles events.
- Use pilot projects to test out new strategies at low cost / risk.
- Employ campus allies to build bench strength: Deans, service departments, popular faculty members.
- Graduating high-school students receive lots of recruiting attention from universities and colleges, but once they enroll, that attention ends. Alumni relations can help ease the transition into post-secondary education with tailored programs.
- Engage student leaders, interns and others as ambassadors or mentors to new students.
- Get students into the “future alumni” mindset through branding, perks and discounts.
- Provide career-prep events to help the transition from new grad to employee:
- Backpack 2 Briefcase tips (with support from Career Services)
- Coaching on how to write a good resumé, build a LinkedIn profile, develop soft skills: financial literacy, personal branding
- Interview rehearsals
- Mentoring / career advice from prominent alumni in a related field (alumni love to be engaged)
- Dress for success / business etiquette lessons
Pilot projects build innovation
- Jump-start change with small, focused projects.
- Choose a social media platform (Instagram vs Twitter) and focus on it extensively for a trial period.
- Feature blogs by YA aimed at other YA and promoted through social media.
- Build the YA focus into alumni awards, magazine articles, social media posts.
Think like a Millennial / Gen Z
- Relate to this demographic now; it gets harder to capture attention with time and distance from graduation.
- Provide the experience of a mall rather than one store: a suite of discounts, access, perks.
- Listen to their needs and wants; make it easy for them to say yes to smaller commitments.
- Crowd-source fundraising appeals.
- Provide 7 - 9 touch points before any financial ask.