MBA Networking - The Who, What, When, Where, Why and How
We have all heard that an MBA is a great way to increase your knowledge and expand your network to grow professionally—whether that is to rejoin the corporate world or launch your own company.
Increasing your knowledge is straight forward: pick your concentration or dual program, enroll in the courses, and go! Networking on the other hand is a bit more nuanced and many of us haven’t given it a thought until we start our MBA. With that in mind, let’s look at the who, what, when, where, why and how to network.
The great news is that anyone can be part of your network —family, friends, colleagues, classmates, faculty, alumni—the list is almost endless. In the MBA world we sometimes think too narrowly targeting only those in our immediate circle. However, you never know when a friend of an alum is the right person with the right piece of information to help you.
Making connections with others socially or professionally to learn, grow and have fun. The best networkers focus on helping others while on their own journey of growth. Keep in mind that everyone wants to spend time with people who show an interest in them.
Networking for the MBA—before, during, and after your program.
Before: Great networkers begin before they start their MBA. They begin by lining up their recommenders for the multiple MBA applications they will submit. If they are really on their game, they connect with current students or alums on social media to learn more about the programs and the application process of the schools of their choice. Having a clear understanding about the interview process from a successful candidate is beneficial and can take some stress out of the situation. Once admitted, these stellar networkers connect with the program director, career development team and future classmates to introduce themselves and prepare for the program start. Don’t worry if you haven’t started networking with your new school, but be kind to yourself and start now.
During: Kick your networking into high gear if you want to be successful in landing that coveted internship or job. This means being engaged early and often with school events while balancing your coursework and your personal life. MBA programs offer stellar opportunities to network through company info sessions, career treks, global business experiences, tailgates, happy hours, career fairs, clubs and more. Be sure to read your email and newsletters to learn about opportunities to put yourself out there!
After: Stay connected as an alum. Remember all the folks that gave you great advice or helped you make connections while you were a student? Now it is your turn to give back! Be a speaker on a panel, judge a case competition, or become a mentor. Not only will you stay connected to your alma mater, but you will grow your network by meeting the next wave of emerging business leaders.
MBA programs offer many opportunities to network but don’t forget about opportunities outside of school. Be creative—is there a cause or professional field that you are passionate about? Consider volunteering at a not-for-profit or joining a professional organization such as Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA), or the American Marketing Association (AMA).
Networking helps you increase your odds of being in the right place at the right time to give or receive a helping hand. Through connections you might learn which companies are hiring or what organizations are planning a community event that you want to support. You might be able to pass along a job opportunity that isn’t a fit for you but would be ideal for a friend or classmate.
This part is easy! Attend in-person events job fairs, info sessions, school networking events or activities with classmates. Mix, mingle and see how you can help others by providing information or making additional connections. Be respectful—if you RSVP to attend an event be sure to go. No-shows are noticed and you want to be sure that you are at the top of every invite list.
Finally, don’t forget that social media is a great way to expand your network. MBA students should have a professional profile on LinkedIn with a headshot. Create a concise profile and include your university and previous work connections. Follow leaders in the industry or function to which you aspire. Get started by joining groups of interest and contribute where you can by posting or reposting useful content.
The Eller graduate experience comes in many forms, including five MBA programs, 12 specialized master’s degrees and many more options for concentrations, specializations, dual degrees and certificates.
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