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People come and people go – such is the nature of today’s business world. Rarely do employees start and finish their career with the same employer anymore, it’s just not how this generation operates. Employees will leave jobs for any number of reasons, and often they are not negative. But instead of getting angry or upset with someone leaving your firm, you may be better off thinking about how this turn of events could benefit you. Here are the Three B’s of alumni initiatives:
- Brand Ambassadors – Who better to advocate for your organization than alums who leave with the warm and fuzzies? Maintaining a positive relationship with lawyers and staff who have left the firm can go a long way in establishing your image as an employer to others. Validation from former employees carries a lot of weight. Wouldn’t you trust an endorsement from someone who worked there previously? As Jeff Roberts, President and Creative Director of Moiré Marketing Partners (and LMA member), said in his Purple Paper, Happy Alums: Can Employees Keep Working after They’re Gone?: “Keep your alumni happy, and you’ll have a fleet of unpaid people spreading goodwill throughout the community.”
- Business Development – Let’s say a lawyer does leave your firm and goes in-house at a Fortune 500 company. Wouldn’t it be really nice to be able to approach that lawyer about new business? The market is so saturated with high quality firms and well respected attorneys that having an in with the in-house counsel is priceless. Leveraging those relationships is crucial in the competitive world of attracting new business. “A firm has no way of knowing where its former attorneys will end up; and, if they happen to land in a large potential client’s office, their opinion of the firm matters a great deal. Conversely, if attorneys retain a positive view of their experience there, the firm could have much to gain.” [How Law Firms Can Leverage Their Relationships With Alumni (Including Those Not Leaving of Their Own Accord) and Why It Matters, Kate Neville, June 12, 2010.]
- Building a Network – So, how do you establish an ongoing relationship with alumni? There are a number of ways to build this network; here are just a few. You can create a newsletter (electronic or print) that highlights not only news about the firm, but focuses on important news about your former employees. Feel free to include updates on new jobs and careers, weddings, babies, hobbies – and photos! People love to see the faces of others that they worked with. Also, inviting alumni to social events can help keep those positive vibes going. Host a happy hour, a bowling tournament, or an open house at the office where people can socialize and catch up on life. Finally, set up an alumni network on social media. Create a LinkedIn group and Facebook page dedicated to alumni where you can post updates and invitations to the social events, and they have the opportunity to connect with each other.
The key thing to remember is that positive alumni relationships can be extremely beneficial to your firm, and that negative ones can hurt you more than you think. Be strategic.
By Kristin Maclay Brunett, Marketing and Business Development Manager at Paley Rothman, for the January/February 2015 issue of the Capital Ideas Newsletter.