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Corporate alumni networks have been our focus from day one, starting more than 10 years ago. In fact, we live and breathe corporate alumni programs so that we can share our knowledge with you.

Alumni Networks in Action: Nielsen

An enthusiastic group of alumni network managers recently gathered during the Conenza Alumni Program Summit (CAPS) at a private ranch in Montana for a series of knowledge-sharing sessions. The two-day event was filled with inspiring talks, shared learnings, actionable takeaways, relaxing dinners and star gazing in Big Sky Country.  Stay tuned for more insights from the CAPS event in future posts.

Dan Klamm from Nielsen shared an overview of the organization’s recent Nielsen Alumni Week, featuring a series of 14 events designed to celebrate alumni, reaffirm their value to the organization and ensure they are knowledgeable about current Nielsen offerings.

Nielsen Alumni Network

Nielsen has been around for more than 90 years providing data and analytics for the media, advertising, retail and consumer-goods industries. Nielsen monitors what people watch and buy around the globe to produce complete and trusted views of consumers and markets.

When Dan Klamm, Director of Alumni Relations for Nielsen, came onboard in 2015, the alumni program had stagnated, in part because people had outdated perceptions of the company. When Nielsen formally relaunched its alumni program in 2016, Dan focused on rebranding with a strong emphasis on organizational transparency. His goal was for alumni to understand what Nielsen does now and the types of offerings it provides. Empowering alumni with the right knowledge to be valuable brand advocates has been a key component in the alumni network’s success over the past three years.

In the span of two years, Nielsen’s Alumni Network quickly grew from 400 to 4,300 registered alumni through outreach, referrals and increasing awareness within the company. In the U.S., Dan found one-off alumni events were a popular way to connect with alumni, but wanted more opportunities for engagement and global reach. The current momentum meant that it was the perfect time to take the Nielsen Alumni Network from a U.S. program to a global one.

The result was Nielsen Alumni Week, a series of events held in offices all over the world with very specific goals:

  1. Celebrate alumni and reaffirm they are a valued part of the Nielsen community
  2. Ensure alumni are up-to-date about Nielsen’s current offerings and business model
  3. Foster connections and create partnerships

30 October 3 November 2017 | One week | 14 events

Critical to the success of a plan of this magnitude was engaging current Nielsen associates at offices around the globe through an intensive internal employee and alumni marketing campaign. LinkedIn InMail campaigns were especially effective in reaching out to alumni in a specific geography before an event. Dan also enlisted the help of Nielsen executives to send invites. The personal touch drove higher event responses and ultimately generated more buzz.

Alumni Week was made up of 12 in-person events, ranging from dinner and an alumni comedian in Mumbai to an alumni entrepreneur panel in Cincinnati. Two additional online events during Nielsen Alumni Week featured a Q&A with the chief strategy officer and a “How to Boomerang to Nielsen” session. From Bucharest to Shanghai to New York City, Nielsen alumni came together and celebrated their continuing relationship with the company.

Organizers collected lots of content to use in company newsletters, social media and the website, including coverage of the launch of the Alumni Social Impact Award for bettering the world and the Nielsen community. A generous donation was awarded to the winner’s charity of choice.

Dan credits much of the success of these events to the local Nielsen teams. Offices were enthusiastic to plan events built around the theme of celebrating alumni. Executive sponsors signed on for each event to help build awareness and support for participation. He also had a group of alumni volunteers who were able to assist with content and organization. More than 600 alumni participated along with more than 600 current associates, making the inaugural Nielsen Alumni Week a huge success.

Dan is already planning for next year’s Nielsen Alumni Week. Colleagues from Belgium, Chile and other locations have expressed interest in participating, so 2018’s Alumni Week should be even more globally impactful.

Lessons learned

Dan will incorporate lessons learned from the inaugural launch including:

  1. Start planning early – Carefully select locations where many alumni are located to maximize participation. Host events at company offices if possible to reduce costs. Make sure executives from the location buy-in to the event and, if possible, have them issue personal invites to alumni. Use company social media channels to build momentum and create a hashtag specific to the week’s events.
  2. Standardize the process – Make it easier for regional offices to succeed by empowering local event leads and work with them to communicate their roles, expectations and appropriate success metrics. Require organizers to capture photos, video and other content that can be used across multiple channels. These events provide a ton of content that you can reuse and helps with future promotion.
  3. Leverage online options – Highly publicized online events featuring C-suite executives and engaging topics can be a great way to reach alumni around the globe, whether it’s centered around a specific theme or a candid Q&A. The boomerang employee webinar in particular was extremely popular, where key Nielsen employees spoke about what they look for in alumni rehires. Make sure to record the events and make available for later viewing.

Looking forward

Dan hopes to engage even more alumni and associates during the next Nielsen Alumni Week. He is creating a toolkit to ensure that local event leads will continue to have the autonomy to create events that are authentic for their locations and alumni.