The 4 Secrets Of Running The Perfect Alumni Event
Alumni events are the bread and butter of most alumni engagement strategies. From receptions and galas, to reunions and career networking events, there are a multitude of ways to bring alumni together and boost engagement.
But given how much effort it takes to put an alumni gathering together, how can you ensure you’ll attract the attendees you want and meet your goals?
In this post, we reveal the 4 secrets to running the perfect alumni event.
1. Goals and Targeting
You cannot begin planning an event until you understand why you want to put the effort and resources into it.
Here are the primary things to consider when planning your event:
- What are you trying to achieve with this event?
- Are you looking to create a general gathering for all of your alumni network to connect with one another and to reconnect with your institution?
- Are you celebrating a milestone and wish to engage your alumni by including them in the festivities?
- What is your ideal attendance rate?
- Are you trying to fundraise for a specific cause?
- Do you want to enroll people in mentoring programs? Or another program?
- Are you looking for exposure, and if so, by which medium(s)?
Make sure to define clear, measurable and attainable outcomes so you can target and optimize as efficiently as possible.
Once you know your goal, ensure that you understand which alumni you are targeting.
Is it a major event for the entire alumni body? Are you trying to create an intimate gathering of alumni from a specific graduating year? Graduates from a specific program? Graduates working in a specific profession and/or industry? Are you looking to entertain your existing alumni donors? These considerations will all help you identify how best to do your outreach.
2. Alumni Incentive
Your alumni will need an enticing reason to attend your event.
Your event needs to provide them with some kind of real value including:
- An interesting and/or influential speaker on a topic that they will connect with
- A really attractive entertainment event that will draw crowds.
- A hands-on workshop or networking event to provide sought-after skills or connections.
Ideally, you should be providing your alumni with an experience that they would not be able to have anywhere else and gives them a real, tangible benefit.
Keep in mind whether you can expand your event to include your alumni’s personal networks in the event (family, friends etc.), so that they feel more open to attending and sharing the experience. These are busy people who are building their careers, families and trying to enjoy an active social life.
Their time is precious and you need to think creatively how best to ensure your alumni’s confirmation and attendance.
You will need to ensure that promotion goes out well-ahead of time in order to build interest and follow-up on registration.
It is essential that you have the correct contact information to invite the relevant guests to your event, and to promote the event through the various social media channels.
Your promotional materials should all be very clear, with concise language and a simple yet engaging design. These alumni should immediately see the value of attending for them, above the obvious chance to reconnect with old acquaintances.
If you use a good alumni engagement platform, like GradEngage, this element is simple as your contact information will be updated, and it is easy to segment your contacts and promote your event directly via the platform.
Do not underestimate the need for personal follow-up in the days following the event. Every interaction should lead to another in order to scale your long-term engagement goals. Try to be as personal as possible and focus on building a relationship.
Alumni events can represent wonderful professional and personal development opportunities for former students or employees, and they can also offer real benefits to the organizing institution.
Start planning as early as possible and go through this checklist so you don’t miss out on this opportunity to engage and connect authentically to your alumni.