Time for Mentoring

When Your Mentors and Mentees Don't Have Time for Mentoring

No one can put more hours in the day, but we can give you a few tips and strategies to make the most of the hours you – and your mentors and mentees – do have.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Promote Your Brand Through Your Alumni Program

            When you think of Billy Mays, you immediately picture him in his crisp blue polo shouting to promote OxyClean™ to get any stain out no matter what! He is a great example of an organization promoting their brand. Unfortunately, he isn't taking anymore promotional gigs. But fear not, there is a solution right at your fingertips.

             Using an alumni program to promote your brand is one of the most efficient ways to network these days. It improve the perception of an organization among customers, suppliers, and employees both present and future.

             An alumni program is a great way to stay connected with former employees that could be a useful asset in the future. It spurs engagement within the corporation, and help retain those high potentials that could be brand promoters in the future. Key points include:

  • Leverage alumni members as brand ambassadors
  • Gain access to knowledgeable product focus groups relevant to the brand
  • Create a group of super-engaged alumni high potentials
  • Extend employment brand to encompass the complete employee lifecycle

             Here is an example of how a situation might play out where your alumni would promote your brand. Say the manager in the technology field of your company retires, and stays connected through the company alumni. Now let’s say that this manager runs into an old friend (also a manager in the tech field) that happens to be unrolling a new software that could dramatically boost the ROI of your corporation and everybody wants this technology. Your retired tech manager is your brand advocate and will more then likely persuade his colleague into partnering up with your organization to unroll the new technology.

              It’s all a game of who knows who- which is how business works. What better way to promote your brand than through the people who best represent it, your employees.

              Insala has the tools, resources, and 15 years of experience in implementing SaaS solutions to help you create, expand, or migrate your corporate alumni program. We believe our partnership with you should not only be strategic, but also based in service.

To learn more about how we can support your corporate alumni program, read more about our  vision, service, consulting, and software, or request a demo.

Monday, October 3, 2016

The Pros and Cons of Virtual Mentoring

We live in a truly digital age. More and more relationships and bonds are being formed without even meeting face-to-face. These kind of relationships have spread into the business and legal world as well.

In the legal world; knowledge transfer is a major way that law firms pass on their heirloom proficiencies from one partner to another. By extension, distance learning via virtual mentoring is an excellent way to facilitate that transfer of knowledge.  However,there are some pros and cons to consider when evaluating the effectiveness of virtual mentoring for legal professionals.

In traditional mentoring relationships, the mentor and mentee  usually interact on a face-to-face basis. However, modern ways of communicating via the Web, e-mail and other new technologies today make long-distance mentoring more feasible and more common. That being said, there are always pros and cons to virtual mentoring.


  • Knowledge exchange from both parties
  • Mentoring is facilitated with the ease of a non-restrictive meeting - This allows a less restrictive schedule for both parties which is very convenient, especially considering the mentor is more than likely a very busy person.
  • Larger pool of potential mentor and mentees to match together.
  • Good exposure for the mentee. - referring to having exposure to parts of the organization in different locations that maybe they wouldn't have had if it wasn't for the mentoring program)


  • Challenges in communication- Face-to-face communications offers a lot more than virtual communication such as  body language, facial expressions and gestures.
  • Time zones are a possible challenge- (One mentor could be based as far as China while the mentee is in the U.S, causing their meeting time to be precarious, at best.)
  • Lack of interest between matched pair- (again without being face to face you can't tell the level of engagement your mentor or mentee feels in the relationship)
  • Technology problems (this can be a big frustration since you are depending on technology systems to provide a channel of communication.)

The key to successful virtual mentoring is a shared understanding of how and when communications will occur. While some face-to-face meetings may be necessary, telephone calls and/or e-mails often are satisfactory for most subsequent discussions.

A principal benefit of long-distance mentoring is that it significantly expands the field of mentors available to any one lawyer. There may be a mentor based in a UK office of an international law firm that may suit the needs of a mentee in it’s U.S. affiliate. This would be one advantage of virtual mentoring because it does not limit the mentee to a small field of available mentors. This is especially useful for those who practice in smaller  organisational branches where a suitable mentor may not be available locally, or in situations where the only local mentor candidate isn’t suitable.
Overall; Virtual ,or distance, mentoring can be a valuable asset to an organization that has the means to support it. These means include having a large enough  pool of mentor and mentees, the technology needed to facilitate this relationship, and the need for the mentoring program all together.

At Insala we specialize in assisting your organization create the best mentoring program for you; be it virtual or face to face. Visit Insala today to schedule a demo.

Friday, August 12, 2016

How to Build Your Corporate Alumni Network

Building an alumni network from the ground up can be difficult. Luckily, we have plenty of experience helping a diverse range of organizations do this. Here are a few items you should consider when building a corporate alumni network.

Decide on the population pool early:

What kind of criteria will you have for candidates? Do you want to include current alumni in your portal? An advantage there is you are able to start with a larger, more active pool. Will you include former interns, contractors or those who were terminated from their positions? Determining the answer to these and questions like these will expedite your network building efforts.

Reach out to existing unofficial groups:

This is one of the first things that should be done when creating your alumni network. Find out if any unofficial alumni groups already exist, and invite them into the fold. If they are passionate enough to found or join this group, then they are likely prime candidates for your official alumni network. Don’t forget to screen them based on the criteria we established above.

Sell the idea early...and late:

The first adjustment made to current procedure when looking to expand your alumni network concerns onboarding and recruitment. Pitch the alumni network as an employee benefit. This is an exclusive club they gain admittance to from the moment onboarding concludes and they should know its value. Prospective employees should also be told about the network as way to express how the organization cares for its own.This should prompt a change in your exit interviews as well. Exiting employees should be offered the alumni network as a way to keep up with company news, events and business opportunities. 

Communicate frequently:

The various advantages of having this portal all go back to communication. The more engaged your network is with the service, the more likely they are to be active. Active, engaged members are the core of successful corporate alumni networks. [Click to Tweet]

Simply put - this is a discourse community that is dependent on all of its pieces working cohesively. 

Get together when you can:

Although you are all connected virtually, alumni events are a positive reason to gather the troops and bring everyone face to face. These networking events can spur business development, serve as recruiting tools prospects and career development for the alumni. This is also a chance for representatives of the host organization to address the alumni at a relaxed, social gathering that keeps the relationship fun.

Informal versions of Alumni networks birthed companies like Yelp and Uber.
[Click to Tweet] Imagine what your organization can accomplish with the powers of technology and your alumni combined. For more information visit http://www.alumnipro.com

Building more effective women leaders through mentoring.

Who do you envision when you think of a CEO? [Click to Tweet]
More than likely, you're imagining a white man in his mid-40’s and in a well-tailored suit. He sits in his corner office, overlooking a booming metropolis, and drinks black coffee. While the preceding scene may not be wholly accurate or universal, it is familiar and indicative of one truth: we have been socialized to disregard the potential of women in leadership.
[Click to Tweet]

“This is a man’s world, but it would be nothing, nothing without a woman or a girl.”

As James Brown puts it - this is a man’s world that relies on the power of women. But with the ever changing landscape of the workplace, women will soon be credited for all of their contributions through leadership roles.

In 2016 we have our first woman presiden
tial nominee. This is reflective of the fact that more than ever, women are holding executive positions. What better way to prepare them for these roles than through mentoring?

Women Working With Women

Women in mentoring programs have the homefield advantage when it comes to mentoring other women. They are able to relate to the struggles other women may face when rising through the ranks. Studies show that women approach mentoring differently than men do 
and consider different skill sets important.

cording to Forbes, Women and men function differently in the workplace. For instance, women are more motivated to go after higher positions for higher pay, where as men are more concerned with status. It would only make sense that women mentoring other women would be an effective strategy.

“While communication is see
n as the most important attribute of good leaders by both sexes, women are more likely to perceive this skill in terms of listening and engaging in two-way dialogue, while men are more likely to focus on broadcasting messages,” the article stated.

Here are some of the benefits women experience through mentorship:

  • Improved leadership skills and managerial capability utilizing those women who are most qualified fill leadership gaps. 
  • Retain knowledge and transfer it to others in the organization, especially women who are willing to mentor hi-potential women. 
  • Diversify the culture by supporting under-represented groups and promoting gender - conscious work places. 
  • Accelerate time-to-proficiency for new hires including women who will be eager to stay because of the commitment shown to their career development. 
  • Retain talented women by showing a commitment to women’s career development.
A recent study published by Mckinsey shows that womens advancement in the workplace not only morally strengthens the foundation of the organization, but actually drives more business and puts more money in the american economy.

“Gender inequality is not only a pressing moral and social issue but also a critical economic challenge. If women—who account for half the world’s working-age population—do not achieve their full economic potential, the global economy will suffer. Closing the global gender gap could deliver $12 trillion to $28 trillion of additional GDP in 2016,” the study stated.

This study not only shows the call of action for filling the gender gap, but clearly outlines that it’s a positive notion all across the board. Women employees are being paid more, staying longer, and feeling more satisfied with their careers

For more information on starting a mentoring program or to schedule a demo today, visit http://www.insala.com

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Interview with Insala's Alumni M.D. David Goggin.

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We sat down with David Goggin, Insala’s Managing Director of Alumni Services, to discuss how corporate social networks are helping organizations utilize their dormant talent.

What’s the usual feedback you receive from clients of Insala's Alumni Network solutions?

We usually receive positive feedback around our career tools, branding capabilities, and how integrated our platform is (i.e. they don’t need to go outside the platform to create their messages or content etc.). Users tend to enjoy having the ability for registered users to invite unregistered users to register. People also like our events tools as well.

The fact that we have CRM capabilities in our platform is also a good selling point.

What advantage does our proprietary software have over LinkedIn, specifically? 

With our portal the client owns the data, with LinkedIn the user owns their data
We give better reporting
We have better branding capabilities
We have better interaction/engagement tools like group events, targeted job opportunities etc.
We target content and events to specific user groups/populations
We produce better metrics and reporting around user activity
Our integrated messaging platform with branded/personalize messaging capabilities
An ability to define their alumni user experience

What is included in the “basic package” for Alumni networks?

Directory/People Search
Content Management
Events Management
Job Opportunities
Candidate Referrals
Message Manager
Advanced Reporting Tools
Custom branded login screen
Branded User Portal
Mobile Access
Login with LinkedIn
Login with Xing

What are the full customization options for clients who choose purchase the full suite?

Insala Career Tools
Integration with HRIS
Integration with CRM
Integration with SingleSignOn
Custom URL Masking

How many people do you need to have a successful alumni network?

We have clients with networks ranging from 250 up to 800,000 users.  An alumni network can never be too small. Realistically, it should be around 500 to warrant a portal like ours.

Is this an option for small to medium businesses? And By extension, how large does a company need to be to support an alumni network?

 I would say that organisations of 2,000+ employees would benefit from a defined alumni programme.

Can we transition networks from LinkedIn to our suite?

Yes we can, but we do it differently. We start with taking data from the client’s HR database and then we send out invitations to register. Once the portal is set up, our clients also promote the portal in their LinkedIn group, driving registrations. Clients can use both our portal and an official LinkedIn group together, rather than one or the other.

How long does it take to get one of these networks set up?

With our new configuration tools coming soon, we should be able to setup a Standard Edition in 45 days.  An Enterprise Edition would take somewhere between 60-90 days, depending on the number of other systems the client would like us to integrate with.

For more information on our Alumni Suite and the possibilities it offers, visit http://www.AlumniPro.com today.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Effective Alumni Networking in a Job Search

Looking to change careers, but all you’ve got is an alumni contact list full of people in your current industry?  If you’re going to look for a job within your corporate alumni network, it’s best to approach the right people.

 If you share an alumni at ABC incorporated, then you should target your approach to whomever you are appealing to. Don’t ask them to do something they can’t do, and don’t expect any more than what they tell you. If you’re in IT, for example, you wouldn’t approach a corporate alumnus on the sales team for hiring opportunities. Here are a pair of helpful tips to make your efforts get you more noticed in today’s competitive jobs market:

Don’t come off as desperate or transactional

Think about it. You can typically smell desperation from a mile away. If the first thing you open up with in your job search is your inability to find a job, then you’re doing it wrong. Bring something to the table, even if it's just lunch. [Click to Tweet] Your alumni base already knows that you’re reaching out for one reason or another, especially if you didn’t know them well at your host organization. At least offer to take them out for chance to discuss business so that there is no misconception on what the point of the meeting is. Some prefer to get straight to business, and a meeting may not be necessary. Either way, present value in exchange for the value you aim to gain from them.

Be genuine in your approach

This ties into the last point. State your intentions clearly from the start. While there exists a need for general networking amongst your alumni base, when looking for a job it is best to make it known early on. If you’ve properly networked before the need for a career transition arose, then you’ve done it right. For the rest of you, it’s time to microwave some relationships. Ask about the company culture, the needs of the department you’re looking into, and anything else you can’t find out on the company website.

The job search is difficult, especially if your skillset is specialized after years in an industry. [Click to Tweet] Finding that fit can be made easier by properly utilizing the resources afforded to you by your alumni network. At Insala, we try our best to bridge the gap between people by way of technology backed solutions.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Power of Alumni Networks

It’s unfair to believe that your employees will want to stay with you forever. Nobody plans to work in the same office for 30 years. It just sort of happens. Or it used to. [Click to Tweet]

It is currently estimated that Millennials will hold 12-15 jobs in their lifetime, which means that the largest age group in your office are transient. How does one maintain a relationship with these ex-employees? Why does a company even want a relationship with those who have left? That’s where alumni networks step in. We already know why organizations are jumping on the bandwagon for Alumni. But what’s the power of it? How do we know those benefits are a reality?

Let’s use the financial services sector as an example. A Harvard Business Review study examined trading decisions between mutual fund portfolio managers. This study compared investment decisions on “connected firms” - those connected by at least one senior official who had gone to the same college as the investor - and “unconnected firms". Results shows a strong correlation: US mutual fund portfolio managers placed larger bets on companies they were connected to. They also performed better on those connected positions than they did with unconnected ones - to the tune of 7.8% a year.

I like to think of it like this: would you prefer doing business with someone who, went to the same college or was a colleague at a previous organization, or with an unfamiliar face?

Another company, BCG, has created a motto for their own alumni network: “Bleed BCG Green” (the company’s color). Many of their former employees are now clients for the company - generating more revenue and creating a positive relationship with them rather than giving a goodbye hug and never seeing their face again.

Another point of contention for alumni networks exists in that it is beneficial for both the employer and the ex-employee. It serves both equally - not just for ROI, but the power of “word-of-mouth.” With social media as a tool for former employees, a company’s reputation can be severely impacted with a few clicks and keystrokes.

If an alumni network was in place, giving them tools to find jobs much easier as well as staying connected for any potential job openings, the need for a Facebook rant would be diminished. In this case, social media would work to foster the company profile as a thoughtful organization with the intent of maintaining fruitful alumni relations. That’s quite a different narrative.