Most MBA alumni realize their degree increases in value when their program’s image and reputation grows. However, many of these same alumni do not realize how they can contribute to their program’s image and reputation growth. I believe that engaged alumni contribute that growth while unengaged alumni actually detract from it. Alumni engagement varies from program to program and individual to individual, and I think engagement and degree value will increase if MBA alumni do any of the following ten things:
- Keep Contact Information Current – One of the major challenges MBA programs have is alumni-contact management. No matter how sophisticated the customer relationship management or contact management system is, it breaks down when alumni-contact information is not current. Keeping contact information current is the starting point for alumni engagement, as well as demonstrating how effective the program is at managing alumni relations.
- Be Responsive – Program administrators and faculty members periodically communicate with alumni. Sometimes, they are sharing information and other times they are asking for survey participation or some other form of assistance. While it is not necessary to respond to each communiqué, it does make a difference when alumni comment or respond, even if it is only an acknowledgement of the message’s receipt. Alumni responsiveness is an indicator that accreditors and ranking organizations use to measure program quality.
- Promote the Program – There are multiple ways, other than wearing or carrying logoed items, for alumni to promote their program. For example, alumni can share with colleagues news articles about the program, open-house announcements, faculty-member research, etc., all of which increase name recognition and reputation.
- Connect with Faculty – Staying connected with the program’s faculty members provides teaching faculty with the opportunity to share new course content with graduates who may have experience or an interest in the subject matter. Such interactions can lead to an improved course or lecture for currently enrolled students, as well as future students.
- Help with Recruiting – Student recruiting is a major effort for most MBA programs. When alumni get involved, two things happen: potential applicants are more likely to apply and enroll, and there is a high probability that quality of the application pool will increase. Quality students result in a better standing in the market area.
- Recruit Graduates – The number of students graduating and having a job offer is one measure of a program’s quality. Employed alumni can work with their company’s HR Department and the program’s placement office to make sure that the two are connected and exchanging information about job opportunities and potential candidates.
- Volunteer – The number of volunteer activities available to alumni is increasing. For example, MBA programs are adding coaching activities in which they pair alumni with current students. In addition, faculty members may need guest speakers or a company to host a facility tour. Volunteering to help with any of these activities can enhance a program’s image by showing a high level of alumni engagement.
- Support Alumni Groups – MBA alumni groups provide many opportunities for alumni engagement, e.g., becoming a member, serving in a leadership role or as a committee member, sponsoring an event, etc. The more alumni who are willing to serve, the more vibrant the alumni group, which, in turn, adds to the program’s prestige.
- Make a Cash Donation – One widely used measure of engagement is the percentage of alumni who donate to the program’s alumni fund-raising effort. The focus is on the percentage that contribute, not the amount given. Typically, a high percentage of alumni donors results in higher rankings and status among peer programs.
- Engage with Social Media – MBA programs and alumni groups are using social media for student recruiting and other related activities. From an alumni standpoint, the effort breaks down when large groups of alumni are not social-media users. Even infrequent users can make a difference with an occasional retweet of a program’s tweet or liking a Facebook post of the program. Any one of these actions can extend the program’s reach, thereby enhancing its image.
These ten actions provide a starting point for helping MBA alumni improve their engagement with their MBA programs. Improved alumni engagement can enhance the program’s image and reputation; and in turn, it can increase the value of the MBA degree for all alumni.
The MyeEMBA readers are likely to be aware of other value-enhancing things alumni can do, as well. Please take a few minutes and share them by adding a comment below.
Dr. Rodney Alsup is the creator of the MyeEMBA blog. His goal is to help MBAs live and work smarter.