Join Chris Yeh for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating a corporate alumni network, part of Reid Hoffman and Chris Yeh on Creating an Alliance with Employees.
- Think about how people get to know your company. In the networked age, the way they get to know your company is through your employees, but even more importantly, through your alumni. In fact, your alumni are the number one group that contributes to your talent brand, your perception as an employer. When people are considering taking a job at your company, they're going to talk to your former employees because they believe they're going to provide objective responses, and they're going to look at what those alumni have done since they left your organization. The hallmark of an organization that provides great career development is that its alumni have gone on to do bigger, better, and amazing things.
So why aren't you engaging your former employees? They're actually waiting for you. Linkedin.com hosts over 118,000 separate corporate alumni groups including 98% of the Fortune 500. The sad thing is the vast majority of these groups have no affiliation whatsoever with the company. These alumni have chosen and care so much about the association they're self organizing these groups, and that's the asset that you can tap. What's really important is that you make the first move to engage your alumni.
They're waiting for you, and in fact, they offer incredible amounts of value. - For example, at LinkedIn, we had these speaker series, and what we do is we invite various great luminaries, could be like Senator Cory Booker, could be a technologist like Marc Andreesen, it could be you know a monk. All kinds of folks come in to give speeches. What we do is we reserve a few of the seats for our valued alumni because, and we let all of the alumni know that those seats are available for them as a way to, for the alumni to know we continue to invest in them, and this is part of the way of establishing a relationship that brings back network intelligence, brings back intelligence about what might be happening in the industry, what might be happening in the competition, what might be happening in technology, or even possibly, prospects of people we should hire or people we should do business with.
Your alumni can be a key portion of your network, almost sensors as it were. Think of sonar or radar of saying okay what's going on in a way that I can integrate it fast and effectively through a trusted source into how I'm planning. - Your alumni can help you hire great people. Not only are they building your talent brand, they're also referring great candidates, and they themselves are great candidates to return as boomerang employees. Your alumni are also incredibly helpful when it comes to your network intelligence.
Unlike your employees, they're outside your company, they probably have access to information that you couldn't even reach. Your alumni are also incredible salespeople. They could refer customers to your goods and services. Some of the few companies that have actually done a good job with their alumni networks are management consultancies like McKinsey. In fact, many of these consultancies employ full time staff just to help place their alumni at various key companies around the economy. Why do you think they do this? Well, part of it is they want to support their alumni, but another part of it is when an alumnus, who has become CEO of a major company, decides they need to spend a couple million dollars on a management consultancy, are they going to go back to their old friends at McKinsey, or are they going to reach out to somebody new? They're going to go back to McKinsey.
Finally, your alumni are brand ambassadors. In this world of Twitter and Facebook, when something happens with your brand, it's really important there be a plethora of voices that speak up in support of you. Your employees can do so, but you know what, people look at someone who's an employee and Tweeting about something say you know, that person is in the tank. They don't have any credibility because they're on the inside. Your alumni, on the other hand, are on the outside, and are viewed as objective, so when it comes to brand ambassadors, your alumni are actually more valuable than your current employees.
Reid and Chris share specific insights from their own experiences with companies like PayPal, Kapost, and LinkedIn, and more.
- Defining a rotational, transformational, or foundational tour of duty
- How to identify each employee's values and aspirations
- Aligning employee, manager, and company goals
- Establishing and leveraging alumni networks