How do you keep in touch with alumni?

Team 3946 is entering our seventh year of competition, and we have very little contact with our alumni, and most of what we have is because there is still a family member associated with the team. Admittedly, the demographics are stacked against us: While I do know a handful of Slidellians with great-great-grandparents who lived in what would come to be known as Slidell, the great majority of us over 25 moved in (myself included), and the great majority of those who grow up here move out by age 25 (almost certainly all three of my children). A significant number of families live here for two to five years in the military or on a government or building contract, and move on.

This means that if we are to get in touch and stay in touch with our alumni, we need to be intentional about it. What has your team (or school, or graduating class, or other comparable group) done to actively re-contact and maintain contact with FRC and/or high school alumni?

Our mentors and fellow team members keep the ability to contact them, even if its just to skype and talk about the brand new tech out there. For those that don’t move incredibly far away, they happen to come back to be known as a mentor in training, or MIT.

The thing is most of the Alumni return because they have their roots planted within our team, knowing where all of it started, their inspiration. By keeping contact with a mentor or just coming back to visit now and then gives them the option to stay involved with the team.

A member of the 2002 robotics team alumni, has been actively mentoring our team by teaching us how to achieve PID (proportional–integral–derivative) in our code, so that when we lightly push a joystick it slowly inches forward. He is known as a programming mentor and is greatly appreciated by the team.

My old team, 1002, currently has a Facebook group that most alumni that are still engaged are part of. The current team uses the group to share details about their season, recruit volunteers, etc.

Another thing I’m trying to start for 1002 is a LinkedIn group for alumni and mentors to stay connected and be able to network professionally. As alumni get older and start their careers, it is invaluable to keep those contacts!

For two years now KING TeC has hosted an event called Pizza and Panel. We invited as many alumni as we had emails for. First each alumni would introduce themselves, as well as state what part of the team they were primarily involved with, such as programming or business. We would then open up a question-lead discussion where they could share their experiences on the team, such as why they joined, their favorite moment, how robotics has helped them in college or their profession, or some experience that taught them a valuable lesson. We also use this opportunity to present the gameplan and planned structure for the upcoming build season. It gives the alumni a feel for the current structure of the team. As the name suggests, pizza is involved.

We have the event at the end of december or early January as it is during most university’s winter break and right before build season, which we aim to get younger member’s excited for. If a large majority or people have moved away, you could try to incorporate a video call. Not the same effect as in person meets, but it could still work.

An event like this is a way to keep in touch with alumni. It gives current members an opportunity to personally meet and connect with previous members of the team. With a personal connection, it gives members a greater confidence to individually reach out to an alumni to ask further questions. It may reinvigorate past member’s team spirit, potentially increasing team support, like mentorship or help at other team events.

The biggest is social media. The team has Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts that are updated regularly, allowing people to pick how they want to stay connected. It helps, but it also doesn’t reach everyone.

From my outside experience, the best way to maintain that link is to let them do most of the work for you. Every 2 years or so, identify that “social butterfly” that connects with everyone. They’re the ones you need to make sure you can contact, because 10 years from now they’re the ones that will be able to contact most of their old teammates. If you have something for your alumni, send out that e-mail and say “pass it on to everyone you know from the team!”

We keep them as prisoners in our dungeons.

The real answer? We don’t unless they contact us (or mentor us…). We’re easy to find, and it’s not such a big town that someone doesn’t know the family, but indeed we have lost touch with most team members over the years.

Stealing this idea - always looking to you for great ideas!

Mostly through students who keep in touch with them over skype/discord. Mostly the alums who are interested in keeping in touch contact the team and those who have moved on don’t. They kinda self-select.

1257 has general-purpose Facebook and Twitter accounts as well as a Facebook alumni group that’s mostly me posting assorted updates on the team and sounding like a proud parent. I also make Facebook events in the group to invite alumni to things like Kickoff and competitions.

Many of our alumni in college come to visit us during the summer. We’ve recently started a project to contact old team captains and alumni through LinkedIn and other avenues to reconnect them to the team and learn more about our history.