Are you ready to unlock the full potential of your MBA journey? If you're an aspiring MBA student or already immersed in the world of business education, you're about to embark on a transformative experience. One key element that can make your MBA adventure truly exceptional is the art of networking.
Your MBA program is the perfect arena to hone your networking skills. You'll have access to a treasure trove of resources, including alumni networks, expert professors, and a diverse pool of fellow students bursting with experience and knowledge. In fact, the QS MBA Applications and Aspirations 2018 report revealed that 30 percent of applicants sought an MBA to build a professional network, underscoring its paramount importance.
Why Networking Matters in MBA
Imagine this: you're applying for a job, and your application goes through the traditional online process. You're one of many candidates, and it's a waiting game to see if your resume even gets noticed. But what if there was a way to bypass this uncertainty?
Here's where networking comes in. According to Drafted's 2020 Employee Referral Programs Benchmark Report, a significant 20%-40% of new employees are hired through referrals. That's not a coincidence; it's a testament to the power of professional connections. Here's why it's essential:
Career Prospects: Did you know that around 85% of all jobs are filled through networking connections? It's a proven path to job offers, sometimes even before positions are posted online. Your network is your job pool.
Information Sharing: Networking is a fantastic learning tool. It's not just about jobs; it's about gaining profound insights into your industry. Connect with people from different fields to broaden your perspectives and explore new career paths.
Enhanced Exposure: Devote time to networking, and your profile in the academic and industry communities will soar. Prospective employers are more likely to be interested in you if they recognize your name and face. A strong personal brand makes you an attractive employee or business partner.
Expanded Connections: When you network, you don't just gain one connection; you gain several. Each connection opens doors to multiple others, exponentially increasing your chances of finding the perfect collaborator or mentor.
Start Building Your Network Early
The journey of networking begins before your MBA program even starts. Here's how to gain an advantage:
Explore Prospective Business Schools: Connect with alumni from your target schools. This helps you decide if a program aligns with your goals.
Classmates as Future Allies: Your peers are your future collaborators and mentors. Identify potential business partners among them and start building bonds from day one.
Leverage Career Services: Most business schools have dedicated career services to connect you with relevant alumni. These connections can lead to invaluable insights and work shadowing opportunities.
Building an Effective Network
Networking extends beyond the mere exchange of business cards; it involves cultivating substantial and meaningful relationships. Here's how to do it right:
Personal Connections: Find common interests and build genuine connections. People prefer helping those they genuinely like, so be sincere.
Stay Engaged: Maintain your network by remembering personal details and sending interesting news links. Putting in a small amount of effort can yield significant results.
Social Media Savvy: Platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter are your digital networking hubs. Connect with people you've met, share insights, and keep the conversation going.
Consistent Effort: Connect with at least one or two people weekly during your MBA. By graduation, you'll have 24 valuable connections in your network.
Beyond School: Seek networking events in your city or volunteer opportunities to expand your network beyond business school.
Tips for MBA Networking
Networking is the lifeblood of your MBA journey, connecting you with opportunities, mentors, and peers who can shape your future. Here are some valuable tips to help you make the most of your networking efforts.
Maximize Campus Visits
Take Meticulous Notes: When on campus, absorb everything like a sponge. Pay attention not only to class content but also teaching methods. Jot down names, class years, and noteworthy discussions.
Explore Student Clubs: Investigate if the business school has clubs aligned with your interests. Observe their dynamics and think about how you can contribute to their growth.
Tap into University Connections: Observe how the business school collaborates with other university departments and local businesses. These connections can be career game-changers, so take note.
Network, Even from Afar
Attend Off-Campus Events: Seek out in-person MBA networking events. They're a superb way to meet multiple schools at once.
Embrace Informational Interviews: Many schools offer off-campus informational interviews and events for prospective MBA students. Find one nearby or explore online networking events if in-person options are scarce.
Leverage Alumni Networks: Explore local alumni networks or connect with alumni in your personal circle, such as colleagues or clients. They can provide invaluable insights into the MBA experience.
Direct Outreach: Don't hesitate to reach out directly via email or LinkedIn. Some MBA programs list current students as ambassadors on their websites. Approach someone with common ground, whether it's your undergraduate alma mater, industry, or background, and ask for a brief conversation.
Embrace Virtual Campus Visits
Discover Online Events: MBA programs have adapted to the pandemic by offering virtual campus visits and networking opportunities. Look for virtual tours, coffee chats, admissions events, and even mock classes.
Make Meaningful Connections: Use these online events to connect with current students and gain insights about your target program. They offer a wealth of information and networking potential.
Networking is your MBA superpower. It opens doors, fuels your knowledge, and supercharges your career. Start early, nurture relationships, and watch your MBA experience transform into a journey of boundless opportunities. Remember, success in business is about people, and networking is the key to unlocking their potential.
So, embrace the power of networking, and let your MBA journey become a story of connections, growth, and ultimate success. Your network is your pathway to career success, and the journey starts now.