Employee networks: tap into unique unexploited opportunities

Alumini Networks

Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn co-founder), Ben Casnocha (Entrepreneur) and Chris Yeh (Investor) – propose in their book, The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age, an exciting and refreshing approach to talent management, employee networks and corporate alumni.

How could you develop employee networks? You should create a trusting atmosphere by assisting employees in investing in their networks. Employees are more likely to respond positively if you urge them to tap into their networks for the organisation.

The relationships with the employee and their talents do not end when they leave. Alumni networks are highly beneficial to both the former employee and the business.

The Alliance - Manage talents

How to get market first-hand information by building and using employee networks?

Hire connected people

When hiring, could you make the strength of a candidate’s network a top priority? It is a common misconception that network strength equals your number of social media followers. However, it is vital to define network strength appropriately. Consider whether a candidate is linked to the proper people. Look if he has the realistic capacity to use those connections. Focus on more than just raw connection numbers. Inquire about the candidates’ biggest professional allies during the interview process.

Find out how they tackle problems—do they use their network of experts? Request that each employee list the smartest persons he knows who are not employed by the organisation. Here’s a straightforward approach to utilise at your next company or team meeting. Make a list of the three most brilliant persons you know for each team member. These lists can assist the firm in various ways.

  • To find specialists who could be brought in as speakers.
  • To identify prospective talents.

“The most meaningful way to differentiate your company from your competition, the best way to put distance between you and the crowd, is to do an outstanding job with information. How you gather, manage, and use information will determine whether you win or lose.”

Bill Gates

How to use employee networks

Encourage your employees to be direct. They should discuss challenges their organisation is encountering with people in their network. Give them a list of questions to ask their friends. Ask them to report back on what they find out. Here is a handful list: 

  • Who are the newcomers to the market, and which of them are doing something interesting?
  • What are other companies (and competitors) doing that are successful or unsuccessful?
  • Who are the leading players in our industry with whom we should communicate?
  • What are our customers’ feelings, what drives them, and how have they changed over time?
  • Who did you chat with this week? Who was the most interesting?

Employee Networks: help employees build their own

  • Encourage your employees to participate in social media and make themselves visible.
  • Employees should have access to a “Networking Fund.” Employees can usually spend on business lunches. Only a handful will allow them to expense on networking lunches. You may ask them to summarise what they learnt at lunch.
  • Allow your employees to speak at Events
  • Organise events at your office.
Employee Networks

Make sure employees share the information.

Explain how to share the lessons if an employee goes out for coffee with someone fascinating or attends a conference. Employees can share what they’ve learned in various ways, from basic e-mails to full-fledged presentations. For example:

  • Employees can hold a brown bag lunch to share their knowledge with their coworkers.
  • Employees can publish their thoughts on the intranet for all other employees to see.

At the time of recruitment and during onboarding, networking should be properly discussed. The employer will allow the employee time to expand her network and pay for her to attend networking events. In return, the corporation wants to use that network. You must make it evident. The company promotes networks as a mutually beneficial asset that benefits both the company and the employees.

Employee Networks: implement a corporate alumni network 

While long-term employment may be obsolete, a long-term partnership remains the goal. The vast majority of alumni networks that do exist are run wholly outside of the corporation. It’s all about the return on investment (return on investment). There are four compelling reasons to invest in an alumni network. The Alumni networks can:

  • Assist you in recruiting great people
  • Contribute valuable information
  • Refer customers.
  • Can act as brand ambassadors

Decide who to include in the alumni network.

Including all ex-employees is the simplest approach to organising an alumni network. Employees with outstanding legal action or the equivalent against them or their new company should be excluded. Employees who were fired for a reason should be excluded.

Define the expectations and benefits of employee networks

During the employment process, use the alumni network as a selling point. The following are some of the most prevalent programs for rewarding and engaging alumni:

  • Bonus for referring others
  • Allowlist access and product discounts
  • Events that are hosted
  • Only a few alumni have received official recognition.
  • Alumni communication

Prepare the exit process.

Get all the information the organisation requires from departing employees to continue a long-term relationship. Contact information, expertise, and what the staff might wish to help with in the future are all included.
The organisation should keep a database with the main data for all ex-employees. Like personal e-mail, phone number, LinkedIn, Twitter, blog URL, and similar information.

Connect current employees and alumni

Once the corporate alumni network is active, the value won’t flow automatically. Busy alumni may not remember to send in information without a reminder. Current employees might not think to reach out to alumni for insights and help with solving problems. Senior managers should set up formal programs and processes for tapping alumni intelligence before the need for their contribution arises.

Make it easy and obvious for current employees to tap the alumni network for network intelligence. Companies should also seek to involve alumni in celebrating their big wins.

Employee Networks Conclusion

Employee networks’ most obvious role is to link a corporation to external information sources. For fresh information, employee networks serve as a source and a filter. The ability to provide access to “secret data”—knowledge that isn’t publicly available—is the second purpose of network intelligence. The third role of network intelligence is to induce “good luck”, a key driver of creativity. Employees who use their professional and personal networks tend to get more feedback. This feedback is coming from people with a wide range of backgrounds, experiences, and areas of expertise. The fourth function of network intelligence is to assist you in seeing possibilities that you may otherwise overlook.

In an era where lifetime employment is no longer the norm, establishing corporate alumni networks and employee networks, which take relatively little investment, is the next natural step in sustaining a connection of mutual trust, mutual investment, and mutual profit. Many businesses recognise the importance of maintaining the employer-employee relationship long after the two have parted ways. It’s a clever talent management plan. Ex-employees, in fact, can be a gold mine of brand ambassadors, new clients, future business partners, and top-tier rehires. Many organisations discover no reason to limit the combined strength of their past and present workforces. David Gousset.

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