Building an alumni network in the year 2023 is the real deal. With the rise in online interactions, alumni are now building communities, developing new connections, and enhancing existing ones. Most educational institutions today ensure that they cultivate strong relationships with their graduating students and long-standing alumni as their alma mater. It is to ensure that the alums stay connected with one another. These alumni bring value and opportunities for their fellows or act as torch-bearers for the fresh graduates. Basically, building a strong alumni network is a two-way road. The alumni take on the role of guiding others by sharing their experiences, goals, and aspirations, while the alma mater fuels these connections.
Undoubtedly, our professional relationships and global alumni networks bring in new career and business opportunities for us. Therefore, building global professional networks is considered essential not only for graduates but also for long-standing alumni.
Why Build a Virtual Alumni Network?
Today, face-to-face human interactions are replaced by online networking. Living in a fast-paced world, people do not have time to travel back and forth. Therefore, reaching the person on their mobile or laptop is feasible for all. For that matter, universities set up a virtual alumni networking space for current or former alumni. The focus here is to offer a networking opportunity for alums to share ideas, build relationships and establish long-term business connections. Alumni from around the world easily tap into the networking space and interact with each other in real time.
Today, universities and colleges host grand virtual networking events that welcome alums from across the globe. For instance, Indiana University has built a virtual alumni network for alumni who connect online, receive career guidance, learn about job opportunities, educate themselves on various industry trends and enjoy the perks of the alumni association. More importantly, alums can access virtual events from anywhere in the world. It saves them precious time and resources while allowing them to connect with like-minded professionals online. Learn more about why choose a 3D virtual event platform for online networking.
Still, wondering how you build a virtual alumni network? Then, follow the steps below to create a successful networking event for your alumni.
Steps to Build a Virtual Alumni Network
Build Excitement in the Alumni Association
Every university or college has alumni associations that active alumni run. It aims at keeping in touch with former university graduates. These alums usually catch up at an annual dinner or campus event. Here we are bringing your attention to using these alumni associations to your advantage. When planning on building an alumni network, make sure you spread the word around. In fact, get current students onboard to welcome their seniors to associate themselves with their alma mater.
Primarily, you need to build excitement for the alumni network. There are a lot many ways that you can use to promote your virtual networking event. Although you must adopt strategies that you are sure would work well with your alumni. Here are some useful tips for building excitement about the event.
- Run event ads on all your institute’s social media channels
- Use email marketing to invite alums to the event personally
- Post about prominent alumni attending the event
- Interest them in building an online community for professionals
- Encourage keynote speakers to proudly share their experiences
- Speak about what’s in it for each alum, e.g. career opportunities
- Interest fresh graduates towards expert career guidance from alums
- Share snippets from the virtual networking space awaiting them
- Spark interest with a chance to engage in 1:1 conversations
- Give a peek into professional career development opportunities
Well, that’s not it. You can go all in when it comes to gathering alumni who graduated ten years back. After all, the alumni should feel compelled to engage with the professionals, faculty, peers and students from their alma matter.
Hop on a Virtual Networking Platform
Once alumni are excited to get together, it is time to look for an all-in-one solution provider platform. A virtual platform is the best place to host your alumni networking fair. You need a platform that offers abundant networking and engagement features. To begin, partner with a platform that supports a personalized dashboard system for each alumni signing into the network. Ensure each attendee receives a unique experience when they enter the virtual networking space.
Although the most powerful feature of a virtual platform is its interactive 3D custom-designed environment. As soon as the alums register for the event, they are directed to the main reception. Further, the attendees easily navigate their way through the virtual space. Here’s what you are looking for in a virtual networking platform.
- 3D virtual venues modelled after school
- Userfriendly UI & UX interface
- Alumni body representation through 3D animated avatars
- Text, audio and video chat options
- Advanced alum profile matchmaking tools
- Breakout rooms and networking lounges
- Social media walls integration
- Webinars for keynote speaker sessions
- Real-time analytic reports on engagement metrics
- Post-event ROI record
Break the Ice at the Networking Lounge
The heart of your networking event is the alumni networking lounge. It is a place where alums meet and greet each other. In addition, it is an exclusive space to break the ice where exhibitors engage alumni in various activities. For instance, prominent alumni can engage others in insightful conversations about their career journeys. Basically, you need to familiarize the alumni with each other just as you would at a campus alumni networking event.
When going virtual, make the networking lounge an exciting and engaging space for everyone. Offer an immersive experience through representative animated avatars. You can also use standees, exhibitor booths, and branded banners to replicate the campus environment.
Encourage Attendee Engagement and Participation
Having good relationships with fellow alumni is very important. For that matter, a virtual platform offers ample opportunities for the audience to network and engage with each other. You can set up live speaker sessions, webinars or discussions for everyone to participate. Most attendees look forward to engaging 1:1 with the prominent alumni or faculty. So, make sure the speakers are open to answering queries or assisting others in private or group discussions. Surely, communication is the key. So make sure that the alumni network is built upon strong conversations and interactions.
There are so many ways that you can engage your alumni body. For instance, you can:
- Share exciting content
- Fun gamification
- Live polling
- Live Q&A sessions
- Roundtable discussions
- Webinar sessions
- Keynote speeches
- Private conversations
Also, make sure that alums engage in healthy and useful interactions. Here’s how alumni can benefit each other
- Mentorship for fresh graduates on career choices
- Addressing others being the ambassador of your institute
- Sponsor alumni projects or raise funding
- Volunteering own services or helping others through advice
- Giving keynote speeches to influence peers and young ones
- Sharing career experiences to guide others’ path
Check out these tips to host engaging networking events online.
Create Networking Breakout Rooms
Just like that; the alumni network is effortlessly built within the virtual breakout rooms. These breakout rooms are a perfect place for attendees to gather and discuss various topics. Moreover, the attendees can join any breakout room that best suits their interests. Here, users can share ideas and thoughts and reflect on top career options. This replicates your in-person group discussion experience where small groups can closely connect to discuss a particular theme, such as future meeting agendas or funding for alumni networking association.
Basically, breakout rooms allow alums to separate into groups for useful discussions. For instance, after presentations or speeches, the alums can continue discussing the topics with speakers in the breakout rooms. Learn more ideas for virtual team meetings.
Facilitate Networking through Social Media Integration
Another way to quickly build alumni network is through social media channel integration. The alums who could not join the event would prefer to join you through live chat. Firstly, get your live event in tune with Facebook or LinkedIn. Then, let the people know they can join the live discussion by sharing their opinions in the comment section. Also, make sure your speaker sessions go live on social media because that is how you expand the networking experience for everyone from around the world. Let’s be clear, your alums should know that their alma mater is warm-welcoming.
Likewise, you can post alumni stories, circulate newsletters, and share achievements and important announcements across all channels. This is how you ought to receive maximum alumni response. Then, once everyone talks on the same subject, know that you have built a strong alumni network.
Encourage Signing into Members-only Network
The aim of your virtual alumni networking is not only confined to engagement at the live event. Instead, your alums should build strong relationships with each other and the educational community. For that matter, make sure you encourage everyone to join the member-only alumni network. This is where your alums can keep in touch with each other, participate in regular sessions, catch up on the news, or invest their time and efforts in a good cause.
But make sure you invite them to an online alumni association. Everyone can easily access the live networking space from anywhere. Once they have formed a community, the dedicated and interested alumni can set up committees and define network objectives. Here’s what your online alumni network would look like
- Build an interest group
- Share members profiles
- Encourage participation in online or personal meets
- Assign designations and roles to members
- Get volunteers in action
- Streamline communications through newsletters or emails
- Fundraising for scholarships and mentorship programs
- Communicate plans and needs
- Schedule regular committee meetings
- Maintain a database of activity records
- Host networking events and luncheons
- Encourage socialization among everyone
With a wide array of features and tools available at Virtual Days Platform, you can create a personalized networking experience for the alumni. Your educational institution can easily build a global alumni network using our chat and networking features. So forget about hosting in-person alumni events and create an immersive online experience for alums joining from different parts of the world. If your college or university is looking to build a strong alumni network, then join our virtual networking platform today.
Take a personalized demo of the virtual environment and begin planning your next event with us.