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Belfast Telegraph

Keep in touch to drive business growth

Sign the ‘goodbye’ card, contribute to the leaving present, and make a meaningful farewell speech, but don’t forget one of the most important things --get contact details of employees who are leaving your company.

Don’t consign those details to the back of a drawer to be forgotten, for networking is one of the most useful ways in which a company can spread its reach to bring in more business. The pool of former employees is one of the easiest networks to tap into.

A healthy corporate alumni network is a valuable resource for bringing in new business opportunities and referrals, as well as demonstrating the good ethos of a company, which is interested enough in former staff to keep in touch with them long after they have left your employ. They may be able to promote future talent towards the company, and to market its brand just by being part of its alumni network. Before considering applying for a new post, most of us will ask a former employee about ‘what it’s really like’ to work there and who better to promote your company than a former employee who still feels closely connected to the business.

Those alumni gain the reciprocal benefit of advice, business knowledge, and even job and promotion leads. ‘Boomerang’ workers may even return with the benefit of new experience, enhanced skills and an increased pool of business connections. Research shows that it costs half as much to re-hire an ex-employee as it does to recruit a new one. Organisations that are clear about leaving the door open to employees on their way out are more likely to benefit from those who may return in the future, armed with new experience and contacts. Most of us have a few colleagues that we have worked with in various capacities in the past, and often those are very strong relationships with a shared history.

An active social media platform is a must for an alumni network, as well as attractive and well-organised events to maintain contacts. Communication is essential for business intelligence on new practices, emerging industry trends and competitive information. Grassroots business gossip emerges from both social media and face-to-face contact. When planning your external communications, don’t forget to include alumni as a key stakeholder group. Alumni events tend to be amongst the most engaging, fun and interactive in your annual calendar of events.

A good-natured and generous-spirited leaving ‘do’ can help everyone’s future prospects.