Jan 30 '14
So your FE college has an alumni association? Maybe you’ve got a database, maybe it’s a group on Facebook, maybe you email members every now and then, or hold the odd reunion? But are you making the most of this highly valuable asset? Of course it’s nice to keep in touch with former students (and staff) – that will always be a good reason to set up and run an alumni association – but it can be used for so much more than that.
At Elephant Creative, currently, a team of our education social media, marketing and PR experts are launching an alumni group for a sixth-form college in London. So we thought we’d share some tips and advice for how to create a rip-roaring alumni association and how to make the most of it.
Firstly….why are you doing it?
- To keep a record of, and to connect with, former students of your college. Ok good start.
- To use the data to collect vital information and statistics – for instance what sort of careers do your students go on to, what percentage went to university – suddenly you have some great facts and stats to put on your website and in your prospectus.
- To collect a ‘hall of fame’ of former student case studies. Gather some case studies from some of your alumni – perhaps one has started a major UK business, or is CEO of a top company; perhaps one of leading a charity, or has trekked across the South Pole. These are great features and stories to use for your website, for monthly newsletters, or even for press releases.
- To find great volunteers to participate in college activities – for instance invite them to give talks, hold workshops, mentor students, or attend your open days.
- Bring investment and business links to your college. By getting in contact with former students you could suddenly re-connect with people who now own or are part of organisations that could be of great benefit to your college.
- To create a buzz about your college – get your alumni doing the talking for you. Encourage them to leave messages on your social media pages – let them become talking advocates for your college.
So….how do we do it?
- You can set up websites and more complex systems to gather and collect alumni in one place…
- …..However you could utilise free sites that already exist for this purpose. Linkedin is the perfect place to form an alumni association. You can create your own group on the world’s largest professional social network. You can search former students and staff using their search tools, you can collect members all in one place, you can allow them to engage and you can message them directly to get in touch with them.
- You can also use other social media, such as Facebook and Twitter to find former students and to engage with them.
- Ultimately you will want to gather their email addresses and keep the data in one place. You can then send out monthly newsletters with alumni news.
- Get the press involved to help search for former students – put out a press release appealing for them to get in touch.
- Make sure you shout about your alumni – put it on your website and feature some of your ‘gifted and talented’ alumni as well as inspiring stories for current and prospective students.
- Don’t forget to keep engaging with them (or they’ll float away). Give them regular updates, get them talking and engaging and invite them to events at the college.
Need some inspiration?
Here are a few examples of some great college alumni associations