Corporate Alumni Groups Offer More Than Memories

I am not a fan of reunions, listening to someone recount glory days from 20 years ago and asking, ‘Whatever happened to…” However, workers are taking a cue from the school reunion notebook and forming corporate alumni groups. Originally apprehensive, I have been pleasantly surprised at the results.

Forming a group makes sense. When you work 50-plus hours a week with folks, you form bonds.  Layoffs, transitions, and time have scattered my GE colleagues but we still love to get together for drinks and catch up. Then someone decided to make it a tad more organized and formed what eventually became known as the Signature Network on LinkedIn.

The Signature Network, named after the company GE acquired and transformed, includes pre-GE and post-GE employees. Vince Mazza is executive vice president of MH Equity, chairman of Brentwood Financial, and the unofficial organizer of the group.

While it started as a gathering for current or former employees, “the network is for anybody as long as there is no spam,” Vince explained. “We welcome anyone who is making a job transition , creating a business opportunity, offering a new product or new service, or just wants to be social. ”

“We like meeting new people and talking about new ideas. People have also found jobs through the contacts they made in the group,” Vince said.

Gatherings are held in major cities across America, from California and Texas to New York and Illinois. There are nearly 500 members on LinkedIn. Vince estimates 30 percent are former or current employees.

It took me a few years after my layoff to actually attend a Signature event. I had been a Signature intern, then a GE employee at the Signature business (renamed Partnership Marketing Group) for eight years. So why did it take me so long to join others for  a food, drinks and chat? I’ll be honest here.

  • Thought others would think I’m a loser. I’ve been through three layoffs and still looking for regular full-time work in corporate communications. I had no idea how common my dilemma was, though, until I talked to those in the same boat.
  • I was afraid no one would remember me. I worked behind-the-scenes on many communications projects, but I didn’t give myself enough credit.  Also, the smiles of folks who didn’t know me were just as warm. 

Corporate alumni groups are growing.  Some are organized and supported by the company itself. Deloitte’s alumni network includes its own website and passwords for former employees.  Others are formed by employees and range from the formal to coffee meet-and-greets. Anyhow it’s done, the connections you make and maintain can be beneficial even years down the line. 

How to Join:  look for The Signature Network in the Groups Directory on LinkedIn.


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