Organzing a reunion can be a daunting task. But if the committee understands "why people attend reunions", it should be much easier.
After attending more than 25 reunions in past 6-8 months, I have understood the motivations of alumni attending reunions.
So what does a good reunion look like?
It is meant to be a fun party where people meet their old classmates, have a nostalgic time, and a section of the attendees would want to network for professional purposes.
To set the tone right, the place/setting has to be informal, preferably with drinks and dinner. Some very successful reunions have also been organized at Boat trips, clubs, or poolside. This makes sure that everyone perceives these events as fun rather than something that becomes boring after 2-3 times.
Spread the message right. It is very important to spread the word so that everyone knows about the event in advance. If there are some people from different cities who wish to participate, they should be able to book their travel and stay in advance.
No speeches. This is what is most hated about reunions. Either speeches have to be by the alumni themselves or not at all. Speeches by professors, alumni committee, or any other designated person tend to make it look very formal.
Registration desk should not become a data entry point. All registrations could be done online. Alumni should be allowed to register via their Linkedin / Facebook accounts on arrival. There should be multiple laptops / tablets available for such an activity. An alumnus who is taking time out for such an event is eager to meet his buddies. And does not want to fill in a form at all. Besides, collecting hard copy data doesn't do any good.
Encourage photographs. This makes sure every person from their batch who did not attend the reunion sees the photographs on Facebook / Instagram. This will make sure they try and attend the next reunion. More photos that go online, better it will be for the long run. Please keep in mind that the photographs uploaded on the institute page are important, but not nearly as important as those taken by the alumni and uploaded themselves. As a side tip, if there is an official photographer, take candid pictures rather than formal pictures. And when these pictures are uploaded on Facebook, make sure you tag the alumni in it. That makes sure the pictures spread farther in the network.
Nametags with batches, company and industry. Please have nametags ready for every alumnus. These nametags should have their batch, current company and industry in which they are working. This gives a clear message for professional networking. Now I can identify people from my industry and network with them easily.
Merchandise table: Make sure institute branded merchandise is for sale. It needs to be prominently displayed. The volunteer at the counter needs to encourage buyers to click photographs with their memorabilia.
Volunteer driven: Make sure the event is driven by current students. This gives them a chance to interact with alumni and also makes them appreciate the value of reunions when they graduate and become alumni.
Awards: If you have any awards to be given, declare them when the event is announced. This makes alumni excited. Make the awards very non-political. And hand them out quickly. Awards should not become the highlight of the reunion.
Every other announcement, speech, and news can wait. You can communicate it via Your Alumni Portal. Do not spend precious personal meeting time on that.
Have you done something differently? Something that might help everybody? Post it in the comments section.
------------------------ About the author -------------------------------------
Pareen Lathia is founder of The Alumni Portal. Having worked with some of the top institutes in India and elsewhere, he has been working on improving Alumni Relations effectiveness by studying various best practices and experimenting with them.
Everyone in the industry knows that Education has to change. But what does it have to be?
For that we first need to realize what’s wrong with the current system. This video is by far the best attempt I have seen at analyzing why current education system is no longer relevant.
What do you think?
We deal with a lot of Alumni associations and managers. Most of them have websites. And majority of those understand the value of the network they have created.
To leverage this value, they create a website which has “Alumni Directory”. The idea is noble, unless, some web designer makes all the information available like it was a public directory.
We regularly come across alumni websites which have personal data of alumni community available for public.
Once such blaring case is a high profile school in Mumbai. You will find high profile people from Bollywood, Politics and Business in their alumni list. The sad part is that they have done very little to protect their personal information. Entire alumni list is available online – without any authentication. I could run a script and get the entire data neatly in excel format.
Right from Shashi Tharoor to Rishi Kapoor to Neville Wadia, we can see them all.
The right way is to have the directory accessible only to their alumni via a secure login system. That’s when networks become secure as well as powerful.
It is said that best days of our lives are school days.
We remember all the great times that we had when we were kids when we meet our old friends. It’s Reunion time. Organizing a reunion has always been a tricky affair – mainly because we never get to everyone in our batch, let alone the entire school/college.
Then, there are those who receive invitations very late because most of these invites are passed in a chain format and on general purpose social networks like Facebook.
The Alumni Portal gets a shiny new backend.
This backend not only provides visual appeal and simplicity but also helps speed up the routine tasks that an Administrator has to do.
Check out the screenshots.
As always, this portal is ever-improving.
Students these days have got immense pressure on themselves and therefore there arises a need of a community where the entire group of Students can come together and share and explain the problems which they come across during their academic year. Joining student communities is not only beneficial in terms of solving the problems related to their College projects during the academic year, but it may also be helpful for the students in organising some creative events or extracurricular activities for themselves where the students can have an opportunity to showcase their talents not in only in front of their seniors but also to the entire college faculties. Every University has a Alumni Association in it where the head of the association plays an important role in taking major decisions regarding the Benefits of the students. The year 2012, we witnessed a major chaos amongst the students where one of the Question papers got leaked and the university now has decided to take a re-examination of the leaked paper. Here in this case the entire Students committee came together in filing a petition to the university against re-examination.
The best things in life come in threes; like friends, dreams and memories, someone once observed. And how true has been this observation. The thing about old friends is that we get so used to them being around, we get so comfortable with them that we do not notice their flaws any longer. Our memories with them always bring joy to our hearts and smiles on our faces.
These friends can be from our school or society or your colleges. Fate can at time be cruel to us and make us get separated from our friends. Our buddies become distant friends and our interactions may now get reduced to ‘liking’ or ‘commenting’ on their status updates and wishing them on their birthdays. In this age of technology, physical space between two people may be anything but that in digital space is only that of a click. So our tweets and posts manage to convey our feelings to one another to some extent.
Your Alumni are all the students who have passed out from any course of your institute. By any course, we mean any full time or part time core or non-core course that you as an institute have offered to the public. A simple internet search would lead you to numerous training programs on networking skills. You may also find in the curriculum of many management institutes that ‘business networking’ is an elective for those who wish to ‘crack super deals’ with high-profile clients. As a management institute, you need to be in touch with all your stakeholders as well. And your alumni association is an important part of this group of stakeholders. Why do you think you should bother with connecting with your alumni at all? They have of course taken their inputs and passed out from their courses and your duty as a management institute has been done. So, why then invest in reconnecting with your ‘ex-students’?
There is an explosion of management institutes in the last decade all over the world. The reasons are many, some of them being the unrestricted access to knowledge sharing by industry experts, social networking opportunities, industrial visits, multiple job offers and considerable higher pay. Aspiring management graduates get to know in a regulated and simulated environment what the corporate buzz is all about.
The curriculum is also evolving in these management institutes to include more contemporary subjects such as entrepreneurship, creativity, talent management, microfinance as well as modern technology such as ERP, virtual technology and the like. Most of the management institutes have industry experts, subject matter experts and university officials on their board of studies who review the curriculum periodically and propose relevant changes. A good idea would also be to include some of the alumni of the institute on such a alumni community to propose changes in the curriculum.