Former employees of a firm are a great potential referral source - if you manage the relationships correctly. The business case has already been made for alumni programs, and if you're reading this you likely agree, so I will cut straight to how to ensure your alumni program is worth your effort.
(Note: this formula is for legal marketers at smaller to mid-sized firms looking to start an alumni program. I'll post a follow up article in a few months on how to step up your alumni game once you have a basic program in place.)
- Collaborate with your HR team to compile a list of former lawyers’ contact info. Add them to your firm’s CRM system. (If HR doesn't have these records, look to accounting, LinkedIn, and your current lawyers to help build the list.) You may want to include business services staff as well as lawyers.
- Create an alumni communication, set the frequency, and send relevant firm announcements. Feature individual alumni in your communications. Make sure your alumni all receive your firm's holiday card as well.
- Consider hosting an annual alumni networking reception. If this doesn't make sense geographically, a social media group might be a better option.
- Assign someone (or a team) to manage the program. The campaign will involve event planning, maintaining the contact list, and reporting.
- Define the objectives of your program, and track your results and progress accordingly. Remember this is a long game you are playing. Results won't happen overnight. An alumni program is just one tool in your marketing and business development arsenal.
- As with any legal marketing initiative, make sure you have support from top level management for best results. Communicate your initiative to the rest of your firm for their participation as well. Your lawyers can assist with individual efforts to keep in touch, which just might be your most important strategy. Because as we know, at the end of the day, it's all about relationships.