Thursday, June 05, 2008

What I’m Hearing…Alumni Networks

Say the phrase “alumni network” and most people are bound to think about college. However, more and more organizations are using alumni networks to their strategic advantage. They consider “alumni,” or groups of employees who used to work for the organization, a key source of potential future talent. That potential talent would be either the former employees themselves or people those individuals know.

The other night, I passed Cipriani 42nd Street here in Manhattan. They were hosting a special event for PriceWaterhouse Coopers and its alumni network. Cipriani doesn’t come cheap, so PWC must consider the expense of catering worthwhile in terms of recruitment and retention ROI.

The event got me thinking – is it possible to go home again? If an organization is good, why do people leave? There are, of course, situations like retirement, spouses’ relocation, personal or family’s health, etc. that wouldn’t close the door on returning to a former employer. These situations aside, however, can a new relationship be as good as or better than the first time? I have seen a few instances where this is true, so the risk of spending countless dollars courting alumni must be outweighed by the potential reward. Maybe with their 70s hit “Reunited,” Peaches and Herb had it right after all.

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