the graduway library

An endless resource of thought leadership, insights and best practices from the world of Career Services and Alumni Relations.

the graduway library

An endless resource of thought leadership, insights and best practices from the world of Career Services and Alumni Relations.

The 4 Secrets of Running the Perfect Alumni Event

Events are the bread and butter of most Alumni Engagement strategies. From receptions and galas, to reunions and career networking events, there are endless ways to bring your alumni together and boost engagement. But with all the effort it takes to put on an event, how do 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.

  • What are you trying to achieve with this event?
    • Are you looking to create a general gathering for all of your alumni network 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 attendance rate do you want? 
  • 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, you need to ensure that you understand which of your 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? Or are you looking to entertain your existing alumni donors?

 

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, such as:

  • 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, or that gives them real, tangible benefit. 

You should also always keep in mind whether you can expand your event to include their own networks in the event (family, friends etc.), so that your alumni feel more open to attending and sharing the experience. Take a step back and think that these are busy people. In most cases, they are building their careers and their families and trying to enjoy an active social life, to travel and so on. 

People’s time is precious and you need to think creatively how best to ensure your alumni’s confirmation and attendance. 

 

3. Promotion

You will need to ensure timely promotion that 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 and to the point, with very direct and concise language and a good, simple, yet engaging design. Your alumni should immediately see the value of attending FOR THEM, over and above the obvious chance to reconnect with old acquaintances. 

If you use a good alumni engagement platform, this element should be simple as your contact information will be updated and it is easy to segment your contacts and promote your event directly via the platform.

 

4. Follow-up

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, a group email doesn’t cut it when it comes to building a relationship.

 

In summary, 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 make sure to go through this checklist so you don’t miss out on this great opportunity to engage your alumni!

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