Do you feel your school has weaknesses and strengths you may be blind to on the inside? Are you struggling at connecting with your alumni who are now across the globe?
As an alumnus of two K-12 private schools and of a private university, we hold our institutions close to our hearts. We have a continued vested interest in the future success of the institutions which hold our degrees/credentials. Our institutions are a part of our current identity. We want them to thrive and succeed far beyond what they were when we were current students.
Where to begin in seeking your alumni to partner with you in addressing your SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, & Threats) analysis
1. Recognize your alumni can become great partners to promote your school AND meet the needs you are PRESENTLY facing.
- If you have no alumni board or officers overall or even in a particular age segment, create a steering committee within the university or private school to decide who are your dream candidates regardless of your opinion of their availability.
- Take advantage of social media and begin to connect with current engaged alumni.
- Keep them informed of the highs and lows of your school via social media posts.
2. Write a bold wish list for who your “Dream Team” of alumni would make up your alumni board.
- Regarding your “dream team,” ask who do you think the alumni cannot say no to and WHO can make the best case for their involvement in alumni affairs.
- Once you have your list, create an additional list of who (Headmaster, university President, VPs, Deans, active alumni, etc) would be best in making the ask for each person to be on your “dream team.”
- Set clear deadlines of asking the dream team.
- Make a very clear presentation to the “dream team” of their exact expectations and what it involves. Give them a beginning and ending point of service. Do not UNDERSELL what they will be asked to do.
3. Once your “Dream Team” says yes to your school–make them HEROES!!!!
- Send them university/school business cards with their name and title. They are a BIG deal!
- Write articles on their biographies on your website and use them as brand ambassadors. They are your “grads done good” and the FACE of the university/school in their area.
- List them in your publications and catalogs.
- They become an extension of what you are doing and become a point of contact for your university/school in their area.
- You are leveraging their expertise, their influence, their credibility in their community to expand the network and reach of your university/school.
- Work closely with them in formulating terms and officers.
4. Task the Alumni Dream Team with a number of responsibilities (some of these from the Strategic Plan SWOT analysis).
- Focus on listening to their feedback and perspective.
- Create a system of mentors for students.
- Ask them to create an alumni referral plan.
- Ask them each to write a letter you can send to students and prospects about HOW their education has assisted them in their career (retention aid).
- It would be their task to name the Alumni of the Year.
- Advice on how university/school can assist alumni in career development
- Ideas for how your school can compete with fellow competitors.
- Ask for them to represent you at their local area conferences if available.
- Value their time. Talk quarterly via Google Hangout video chats for meetings. Use Skype, Google Hangouts, Cisco Webex to facilitate meetings.
These are just some ideas of taking advantage of the expertise, wisdom, and love for your school of your alumni. Please post questions and would love to dialogue with you.