Create the Infrastructure to Support Employer Partnerships
Building successful employer partnerships takes significant time and organization, and is typically unmanageable as an ad hoc assignment. Moreover, employers struggle to navigate the many campus groups that maintain industry relationships alone. Ensure professional and adult education staff have the time they need to research and coordinate with potential partners, and to design offerings that will appeal to them.
Dedicate staff time to business-to-business (B2B) activities
Professional and adult education units that dedicate staff time solely to B2B work see a significant return, as opposed to expecting staff to establish employer partnerships as a side project. Dedicated B2B staff time applies to more than sales: the most successful institutions also devote time to ongoing customer service. These staff members handle the client relationship across its entire life span, driving deep relationships and renewed business while facilitating connections on campus for their industry partners.
At the University of California-Irvine’s Division of Continuing Education, early- to mid-career professionals serve as account managers who help industry partners navigate the university and who work with individual employers over the entire life of the partnership. Account managers develop relationships that drive renewals: 70% of the division’s corporate training revenue comes from repeat business.
Without dedicated staff, employers would struggle to find contacts at the university and if employers engaged they would disappear afterward. With even the relatively low investment of an early-career account manager, professional and adult education units can reduce lost relationships and increase total revenue.
Manage industry relationships with a partnership committee
From alumni relations to career services to professional and adult education, many teams on campus maintain industry relationships, but often with limited knowledge of other interactions an employer has with the school. A coordinated partnership team can designate relationship owners to simplify interactions with employers, who often find institutional structures confusing.
Uncover the inner workings of one university’s partnership management committee.
Universities offer potential for multiple points of engagement
that can solve numerous talent and business problems for partner employers. Few
universities can articulate all the ways employers can find value with them,
however. Without a way to map services not only to business needs but also to discrete
goals and outcomes, institutions fall short of engaging prospective partners.
Create a comprehensive menu to emphasize the ways an employer can benefit from
partnership with your university.
The University of Delaware’s Lerner College of Business and Economics created the menu above to engage different types of executives. For example, if representatives are meeting with a learning and development officer, they might emphasize executive education or custom training, since this position is primarily interested in employee skill development. In contrast, they could promote graduate student technology projects to a Chief Information Officer as a low-cost means to address existing IT challenges.
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