Networking during your MBA is crucial -- the opportunity to form relationships between classmates, alumni, and industry leaders is why most consider an MBA. If strategically executed, a well-networked MBA becomes an invaluable professional asset that pays dividends for the rest of your career.
The Basics: Why Network?
In the landscape of professional growth, knooing the fundamentals of networking is important even before you start your program. To begin, why is it important to actively network? Here's why you should invest your time and effort in building your network?
1. Social Fulfillment:
Social fulfillment is a core aspect of networking that is often overlooked. When we engage with peers, mentors, or professionals in our field, we don't just exchange information or opportunities - we also share our travel experiences, insights, and personal stories. We make friends. This form of networking makes life interesting by contributing to well-being and a sense of belonging.
At the Wharton School, Sarah Toms, an MBA student, faced challenges launching her software business. Despite a strong concept, finding investors was tough. However, her Wharton network connected her with Howard Katzenberg, an experienced former startup CFO. His involvement brought $1.5 million investment from his prior connections, highlighting networking's MBA significance. Toms' networking not only built her team but secured vital funding for their successful startup.
During your MBA, networking isn't for landing your next job. It's the backbone of building your social life.
2. Expanding your Professional Network
While pursuing an MBA, building a professional network is the core reason you would spend time networking. Connecting with individuals and organizations that can offer career opportunities or partnerships in the future have clear value. This might look like attending industry conferences (e.g. MBA World Summit, ROMBA, National Black MBA Association Conference), reaching out to alumni, or engaging on professional networking platforms like LinkedIn.
To stay informed about these events and opportunities, make sure to regularly check your business school event calendar, subscribe to newsletters, and join relevant clubs and alumni networks (For example, the HBS African American Student Union).
Additionally, your professors and career services campus can provide valuable guidance on networking events and resources specific to your target industry and goals.
3. Building a Network of Peers:
Your peers – fellow MBA students – are invaluable networking resource. They come from diverse backgrounds and experiences, and they offer a wide range of perspectives on various business situations and opportunities.
If you intend to enter management consulting, you can expect to encounter fellow classmates who are coming from consulting. But more importantly, building strong relationships with your peers can lead to future collaborations, job referrals, or even entrepreneurial ventures. It also establishes a sense of camaraderie and mutual support that can greatly enhance your MBA journey.
4. Seeding a Network of Mentors:
Mentors play a crucial role in guiding your career progression. They offer wisdom, advice, and feedback based on their own experiences. Networking with professors, industry professionals, or experienced alumni can lead to valuable mentorship relationships. Regularly engaging with your mentors and showing genuine interest in their guidance can pave the way for increased learning and growth opportunities.
Emily, an MBA student passionate about sustainable business, strategically found mentorship. She engaged actively in lectures and maximized her professors' office hours. After expressing interest in a sustainability conference mentioned by her marketing professor, Dr. Rodriguez, she not only attended with his support but was introduced to key industry figures already connected to her professor.
Post-conference, Emily's appreciative and intentional follow-up showcased her led to a mentee-mentor relationship with Dr. Rodriguez, providing:
- Insider Knowledge: Direct introductions to sustainable business leaders.
- Career Guidance: A refined career trajectory based on expert advice.
- Hands-on Experience: A chance to collaborate on a sustainable marketing research project.
- Networking Opportunities: Invitations to other industry events, broadening her professional circle.
- Letter of Recommendation: A powerful endorsement as she approached graduation during the job serach
Emily's journey illustrates the profound impact of mentorship: turning her presence on campus into a career springboard.
5. Network of Mentees:
As an MBA student, you'll also have the opportunity to mentor others. This could be undergraduate students, new first-year MBAs, or even peers who might benefit from your past experiences. Being a mentor is educational in itself, and a valuable piece of creating the network of people who are on 'your team.'
Networking isn't just a single action or event; it's a continuous process of building and nurturing relationships that can lead to both personal and professional growth. As an MBA student, mastering the art of networking can unlock doors to countless opportunities and pave the way for opportunities you might otherwise miss.
Evidence for the Importance of Networking:
As an MBA student, you're likely well-versed in the value of networking for career advancement. However, you may not have fully considered its influence on your well-being. Research from Harvard Business School led by Hanne Collins introduces the concept of "relational diversity," the variety and balance of your social interactions, which can have a substantial impact on happiness and overall satisfaction.
Relational diversity includes two primary elements:
- "richness," which describes the different categories of relationships you maintain, like family, friends, acquaintances, and professional contacts
- "evenness," indicating how evenly you interact across these relationship categories
The study leveraged public data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the World Health Organization, and found that that those with greater relational diversity are generally happier. While some of this data is correlational, the evidence suggests that diverse social interactions can indeed predict future happiness.
As an MBA student, these findings emphasize the value of a diverse network. Connecting with peers, professors, alumni, industry professionals, and even strangers enriches your relationships and boosts your happiness.
In a discussion by Juana Summers and Alisa Chang, the importance of diverse conversations for well-being was highlighted. Everyday individuals in Brooklyn's McCarren Park echoed this sentiment, finding joy in interactions with strangers.
Beyond career growth and well-being, here are more specific reasons to invest in networking:
- Career Fulfillment: Engaging with a diverse range of professionals offers fresh perspectives, enriching your career journey.
- Reciprocity: Helping others in your network creates a reciprocal relationship, leading to mutual support.
- Career Opportunities: Regular interaction keeps you in mind for future opportunities.
- Business Growth: Networking uncovers business prospects and sales potential.
Who should you network with?
Understanding with whom to network is as important as understanding why you should network. Building a robust and diverse network will require you to connect with both obvious and non-obvious audiences.
During your MBA, it's easy to get caught up in your program. Staying in touch with your pre-MBA friends can continue to be an excellent source of emotional support, and their external perspective can be helpful in navigating your career.
Alumni in Your Target Industry:
The MBA is the perfect opportunity to network with the alumni in your target industry. Building this network (read on for more on how) will help you keep up to date with trends in the industry, share best practices, and lead to referrals for job opportunities.
Leaders in your Target Industry :
As an MBA student, you're well-positioned to reach out to leaders in your target industry. Depending on where you're looking to go, getting an MBA sends a clear signal that you might be looking to work hard and try something new – and that you might be looking for a new mentor.
Perhaps the most obvious: the people you're studying with! Your MBA classmates are likely to be ambitious, high-achieving individuals who will go on to have succesfull careers in various industries, including your own. Building strong relationships with them now can lead to valuable connections in the future. Plus, their diverse backgrounds and experiences can enrich your understanding of different cultures, industries, and more.
The key to effective networking lies in embracing diversity of your network and striving for balance in your interactions. Every relationship you cultivate contributes to your overall relational diversity – as the adage goes, it's not what you know, but who you know.
Networking Tactics and How to Network
As an MBA student, developing your networking abilities is a valuable skill that can significantly enhance your career opportunities and professional growth. The following tips are tailored to help you network more effectively in different scenarios:
Engaging in Typical Networking Events as an MBA student:
Prior to attending any networking event, make sure to do your homework. Learn about the attendees, pinpoint those you wish to connect with, and gather information about them. Approach your chosen individuals confidently, initiate engaging discussions, and express sincere interest in their work or experiences.
Strategies to keep in mind during a networking event:
- Adjust your MINDSET!
- Ask ABOUT vs FOR
- Adding VALUE vs Receving HELP
- Show interest but do not interrogate
- Focus more on being ATTENTIVE vs ATTRACTIVE
- Realize EVERYONE is in the same situation
- USE your introduction or personal pitch
- LAY the groundwork for future engagements (exchange contact details -> say "I'll reach out soon/Talk to you soon!")
- Conversation Starters
- “That was a great (session, speech, event). What did you think?”
- “Tell me about the type of work you do.”
- “I’m really interested in X. How did you get into the field?”
- “What’s it like to work at Y?”
- “What are you looking to do next?”
Being well-prepared is crucial before any networking interaction. Get familiar with the background and interests of the person you're meeting with. Set clear objectives about what you hope to gain from the interaction and always bring something valuable to the conversation.
- Realign your objective: Focusing on Connecting/Adding Value rather than merely "working the room."
- Conduct thorough company research beforehand.
- Develop a well-thought-out plan.
- Identify your go-to questions for engaging conversations.
- Customized Approach: Tailor your preparation to each individual. If you're meeting with a marketing professional, for instance, research recent marketing campaigns they've been involved in.
- LinkedIn Insights: Utilize LinkedIn to gain insights into their professional background, recent accomplishments, and articles they've shared.
- Current Events: Stay updated on current industry news and trends. Mentioning relevant news during your conversation can demonstrate your engagement and interest.
- Business Card or Contact Information: Always have your business cards or contact details readily available for easy exchange.
- Open Mindset: Be open to spontaneity. While preparation is vital, flexibility to adapt to the conversation's flow is equally important.
By diversifying your approach and tailoring your preparation to each networking opportunity, you can make a strong impression and foster meaningful connections.
Follow-Up Best Practices:
Following a networking event or meeting, remember to follow up. Send a courteous email or note thanking them for their time and reminding them of a memorable aspect of your conversation. Regular, respectful communication is key to sustaining these relationships.
To-Do list for following up:
- Build upon the foundation you established: resume, information, and contacts.
- Arrange and organize contact details, and initiate connections on LinkedIn.
- Request an informational interview or connection.
- Perform a thorough analysis of the employer's website.
- Gather additional insights from Glassdoor/Niche.
- Refer back to your previous notes and update them.
- Maintain regular contact and check-in multiple times.
- If you missed meeting someone you wanted to connect with, send a thoughtful "sorry I missed you..." note.
- Follow up every 4-6 weeks
- Find reasons to stay in touch to maintain the relationship.
- Value-Adding Content: Send them relevant articles, reports, or resources that align with their interests or industry.
- Event Recap: Share a brief summary of the event you both attended and express your appreciation for their insights.
- Feedback Loop: Ask for their feedback on a project, idea, or recent accomplishment you've shared with them.
- Referral Acknowledgment: If they referred you to someone else, update them on the progress and thank them for the connection.
- Common Interests: If you discovered shared interests, send them information related to those interests.
- Meeting Invitation: Invite them to a relevant industry event, webinar, or conference you think they might find valuable.
- Casual Check-In: Drop a friendly email asking how they've been and if there's anything new on their end.
Networking During an MBA Program:
Your time as an MBA student offers numerous networking opportunities. Connect with professors, guest lecturers, alumni, and your peers. Engage in study groups, join clubs, and participate in case competitions to widen your network. Attending alumni gatherings and career workshops is also an excellent way to meet potential mentors or recruiters.
Coffee Chats with 2-Year MBA Students (2Y)
Interacting with 2Ys through coffee chats is a valuable networking opportunity for aspiring practitioners interested in consulting. While maintaining approachability and friendliness, it is crucial to take these chats seriously and show appreciation with the following key points:
- Exhibit proper etiquette, and being respectful.
- Practice your personal pitch
- Prepare questions in advance
- Example questions
- “Is the company's recruitment conducted on-campus or off-campus?”
- “Could you please provide information about the interview timing and schedule, such as whether there is a "Super day," the number of cases, and the specific areas they focus on for evaluation?”
- “I'm curious to know what percentage of interns typically receive return offers?”
- Discuss relevant topics and make a positive impression during these interactions.
Conferences are a gathering of professionals with shared interests, making them excellent networking platforms. When interacting with firms and practitioners, maintaining impeccable communication is crucial.
Here are tips you should consider:
- Ensure appropriate attire (polo shirt, dress shirt, blouse, dress, etc.).
- Avoid interruptions by muting phone and laptop notifications.
- Select a quiet and well-lit location.
- During virtual interactions, maintain eye contact by looking into the camera.
- Be well-prepared with questions in advance.
- What is the company's size in terms of revenue and the number of employees?
- Regarding locations and flexibility, are there specific industries or functions tied to particular areas?
- What type of work does the company undertake? Is it primarily focused on strategy, implementation, or both?
- Is the alignment of roles based on functions or specific industries, and when do I need to align myself with a particular area?
Company Structure and Culture Questions:
- Could you share insights into the company's structure and its prevailing culture, including ethos, values, and any Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)?
- Can you provide information on the company's health, whether it is currently growing, shrinking, or moving in a specific direction?
- What does the professional development program entail, if any, in terms of training and onboarding?
- At what level will I begin, and will I have responsibilities for managing people?
- How is the work/life balance typically managed in the company?
- What is the average speed to promotion within the organization?
- Does the company offer support or special opportunities for (your school) alumni?
- Are there any additional responsibilities outside of my regular job duties that I might be expected to take on?
- How does the company handle staffing? Is it done automatically or based on networking?
- What is the average duration of projects within the company?
- Are teams primarily located in one area, spread nationally, or operating on a global scale?
- Is there a requirement for international travel, and how is it managed, billed as a pass-through or included in project costs?
- Can you explain how projects are typically sold and billed within the company?
Customer and Clientele Questions:
- Who are the major clients the company serves?
- Is the company's work primarily concentrated in one particular industry or with a specific client?
When reaching out to firms and practitioners via email during your consulting recruiting journey, it is essential to communicate in a proper manner. Here are some examples of well-written emails to guide you in crafting effective messages. Please use these examples as a reference and not as direct templates. Avoid using them word for word, as multiple copies of the same email format may lead practitioners to stop responding to KFBS students.
Company Presentation Follow-Up Email
Good Morning/Afternoon Name,
I hope this email finds you well! I wanted to express my appreciation for your time spent going over FIRM’s company presentation. I particularly took interest in the portion of the conversation spent discussing ________.
If you have upcoming availability, I would love to schedule a quick coffee chat with you or another member of the team that you may see fit. I am specifically interested in learning more about ______ at FIRM. I was wondering, QUESTION SPECIFIC TO THAT PERSON’S PAST EXPERIENCE OR INDUSTRY?
I have regular availability on DAYS OF WEEK (eg. MWF), so feel free to let me know a few times that work for your schedule and I will accommodate.
Thanks again for your time, I look forward to hearing from you!
Hello [Recipient's Name],
I trust this email finds you in good health. I had the pleasure of attending [Event Name/Date], where your presentation on [Topic/Subject Discussed] greatly piqued my interest.
Your insights into [Specific Point of Interest] resonated with my aspirations to excel in [Industry/Topic]. As a dedicated [Your Program/University] student aiming to [Your Career Goal], I am excited about the prospects of learning more about [Company Name]'s distinguished approach and values.
Your expertise in [Recipient's Industry Focus] reflects the kind of path I envision for myself.
If you are available, I would greatly appreciate the chance to connect over a brief coffee chat or virtual call. I am open to accommodating your schedule and preferences.
I appreciate your time and consideration, and I look forward to the possibility of learning from your expertise.
[Your Full Name]
[Your Contact Information]
This method prioritizes establishing solid relationships with clients over simply securing a sale. Showing a genuine interest in their needs and challenges fosters trust, which can lead to further business prospects.
Transitioning Your Network from One Job to Another:
When moving to a new job, ensure you maintain your current professional relationships. Inform your network about your new position and explore ways to continue collaborating with them. Networking is a continuous process, not a one-off task.
In conclusion, successful networking involves careful preparation, active participation, consistent follow-ups, and genuine curiosity about others. As an MBA student, honing these networking skills can play a vital role in shaping your career and opening up future opportunities.
Networking online with Social Media
In today's digitized world, networking isn't confined to physical boundaries; it's become an essential part of the online world. Here's a few points on how you, as an MBA student, can navigate various social media platforms for networking and create a memorable and compelling online presence:
Using LinkedIn, Twitter, and Other Platforms for Networking:
LinkedIn is the primary professional network and an indispensable tool for MBA students. Ensure your profile is complete, includes your MBA credentials, and is up-to-date with your current and desired career path. Engage with others by commenting on their posts, sharing industry-relevant content, and participating in MBA-related groups (including affinity groups). For keeping in touch with your classmates, social platforms like WhatsApp and Instagram will be assumed to be important.
- Make regular posts, ensuring they align with your professional image and values.
- Join groups related to your target industry and attend conferences that are sponsored or attended by companies you are interested in.
- Personalize your messages and connections by being highly specific in your communications.
- Respond promptly to messages and connection requests.
- Avoid having an incomplete profile.
- Begin your communication in a generic way "I see you viewed my profile."
I am a first-year MBA student at [university], and I came across your profile due to your [experience/person]. I am genuinely interested in [fill in the blank], and I would greatly appreciate the chance to connect with you for a discussion. Thank you for your time!
I'm a first-year MBA student at [University] and saw you were also at [University]! Your experience with [experience/person] really caught my attention – I'm really into [fill in the blank] too. Would love to have a chat about it. I'm free on [date/times], and happy to work with whatever times that work with you.
I'm a new MBA student at [University] and came across your profile, impressed by your [experience/person]. I'm diving into [fill in the blank] and would love to pick your brain. Could I buy you a coffee? I'm free on [date/times].
LinkedIn Networking Best Practices
- Friends of Friends, Family Friends, (same school) Undergrad or MBA, Your Undergrad, Former Employer, Volunteering Group, or Cold Call
- Private Mode when applicable: Me > Settings & Privacy > Visibility > Visibility of your Profile and Network > Private Mode
- Personalize your connection request with a note, type in Word first to stay under the 300 character limit. (For Premium users, send an InMail Message that stays under the 2,000 character limit)
I’m a fellow Miami grad, current MBA first year at [University], and
wanted to see if you would be willing to speak on your experience at Yeti! I’m
a former advertising agency Account Executive aiming to shift to the brand
side and would love to learn more about your experience!
Importance of Creating and Maintaining a Professional Online Presence:
As an MBA student, your online presence acts as a digital extension of your resume. It should reflect your professionalism, personal brand, and career aspirations. "The 2-Hour Job Search" by Steve Dalton offers great insights on creating a professional online identity and establishing meaningful relationships. Start by identifying a list of target employers, alumni, or industry experts, reach out to connections in those companies, and follow up systematically.
Reaching Out and Building Relationships:
Dalton's book also provides invaluable tips on initiating conversations and building relationships online. When reaching out, ensure your communication is concise, professional, and personalized. When connecting with someone on LinkedIn, include a personalized note that references shared interests, experiences, or MBA pursuits.
Small Talk and Conversation Starters:
Starting a conversation online can sometimes feel daunting. The aim is to show genuine interest, build rapport, and possibly gain valuable insights related to your MBA or career journey.
Creating a short yet precise pitch goes a long way. Prepare your pitch with the following tips:
- “I'm [Your Name], and my expertise has evolved over [X] years in [Your Area of Expertise]. With a background in [Your Background], I've had the privilege of [Highlight a Notable Achievement or Experience]. I’m passionate about [Your Interest or Industry], and I'm particularly intrigued by [Specific Aspect or Challenge in the Industry]. Your journey in [Relevant Industry or Skill], has truly caught my eye. I'd love to have a chat and gain insights from your experiences. Are you open to connecting for a conversation?”
- “I'm [Your Name], and my background is rooted in [Your Background]. Over the past [X] years, I've specialized in [Your Area of Expertise]. I've been drawn to [Your Interest or Industry], especially [Specific Aspect that Intrigues You]. Your impressive journey in [Relevant Industry or Skill] has definitely caught my attention. Any chance we could have a quick chat? I'd love to gain insights from your experiences.”
- “I'm [Your Name], and I've been diving into [Your Interest or Industry] lately. My background includes [Your Background], and I've got about [X] years of experience in [Your Area of Expertise]. Your journey in [Relevant Industry or Skill] is seriously cool, and I'm all ears to learn from it. Could we catch up sometime soon? Just a laid-back chat to pick your brain a bit.”
- Be genuine and conversational, avoiding the use of generic taglines.
- Craft a memorable pitch, customizing it to suit the person or company you are addressing.
- Respect time constraints by keeping your pitch concise and to the point.
- Ensure a coherent narrative in your pitch, presenting a clear progression from your background to the desired future position.
Remember, online networking and social media engagement are about fostering meaningful connections, not just increasing your contact list. Always maintain a level of professionalism, respect, and authenticity in your interactions. As an MBA student, your digital networking skills can significantly impact your future career opportunities and success in your desired field.
Using a System of Record & Personal CRM
As an MBA student, a crucial aspect of networking is keeping track of your professional relationships. You'll talk to many people, and you'll want to keep track of who you talked to. A good place to start is a spreadsheet, Notion, Airtable, and a purpose-built platform like Dex. Whatever you choose, this system ("Perosnal CMR") will help you create one place for all your interactions, enabling you to manage, organize, and optimize your professional network effectively.
Deep-Dive into the Concept of Personal CRM and Its Role in Networking:
A Personal CRM is more than just a digital address book. It helps you keep tabs on every interaction, meeting, and significant detail about your professional contacts. These might be fellow students, professors, alumni, recruiters, or anyone relevant to your professional growth. By systematically logging information, you can nurture these relationships over time, remember critical details, and effectively follow-up, which can open doors to myriad opportunities. David Rockefeller famously maintained records for 100,000 people to stay on top of his broad network.
Benefits of Integrating Personal CRM into Networking Strategy:
Integrating a Personal CRM into your networking strategy helps you:
- Remember important details about every contact, tracks your communication history so you can pick up where you left off.
- Set reminders for follow-ups, and show you who you're following behind wiht.
- Provide insights about who you should be networking with more often. This systematic approach not only helps you manage your relationships efficiently but also ensures you leverage these connections when needed, for example, during job searches or collaborative projects.
How to Synchronize LinkedIn and Other Professional Platforms with Personal CRM:
Platforms like LinkedIn are goldmines for professional networking. To synchronize LinkedIn and other platforms wit ha spreadsheet, you'll need to export your LinkedIn data as a CSV, and manually reshape this information. Alternatively, for purpose-built platforms like Dex, you can seamlessly import contacts, add notes directly from LinkedIn profiles to your CRM.
Leveraging a Personal CRM as an MBA Candidate
Personal CRM tools can be a secret weapon in how you manage and optimize your professional network during the MBA. Here's a step-by-step guide on how you, as an MBA student, can effectively leverage it.
- Choose the Right Personal CRM:
Numerous options are available, each offering different features. Choose a CRM that allows for easy data import, provides a user-friendly interface, and offers integrations with platforms like LinkedIn and email.
2. Import Your Contacts:
Begin by importing your contacts from LinkedIn, your email, and any other professional platforms you use. Ensure you also manually add any contacts not present on these platforms.
3. Organize Your Contacts:
Create categories such as 'MBA classmates', 'Professors', 'Alumni', 'Industry Contacts', etc. This will help you segment your network for more targeted communication.
4. Log Interactions:
Document each interaction you have with your contacts. Include details such as the date, key topics discussed, and any follow-up actions required.
5. Set Reminders:
Use your CRM to set reminders for following up with contacts. This could be after a meeting, a networking event, or just periodic check-ins to keep the relationship alive.
6. Analyze Your Network:
Use the CRM's analytics features to understand your network better. You might find that you need to engage more with a particular category of contacts, for example.
Strategies for Targeting a Specific MBA-related Industry:
Identify Key Contacts:
Use your Personal CRM to identify key contacts in your target industry. This might include alumni, guest speakers, or industry professionals you meet at events.
Set reminders to engage with these contacts regularly. This could be sharing an interesting article, commenting on their LinkedIn post, or scheduling a catch-up call.
Always aim to add value in your interactions. Demonstrate your knowledge of the industry and express genuine interest in their work.
Examples of MBA Content:
We strongly recommend the following resources for your perusal. Gain valuable insights directly from seasoned professionals who have successfully leveraged their networking skills to climb the ladder of success:
Relationship Maintanence for MBAs
Leveraging Personal CRM for Follow-ups and Relationship Maintenance:
As an MBA student, you will encounter numerous networking opportunities, from guest lectures and alumni events to internships and case competitions. A Personal CRM is a tool that can help you make the most of these interactions.
For instance, after a guest lecture, you can log the key insights you gained and schedule a follow-up email to the speaker, thanking them for their time and discussing any points of interest from their talk. If you meet a potential employer at a career fair, you can note down your conversation and set a reminder for a follow-up touch base.
The Personal CRM ensures you don't miss any crucial follow-ups and helps maintain your relationships effectively over time.
Trying out Dex is a good place to start! Its integrations with several social media platforms and features tailored to build stronger relationships will certainly jumpstart your journey!
The Importance of Regular Updates and Communications in Networking:
Networking isn't a one-time event. For MBA students, regular communication with your professional contacts is crucial for cultivating long-term relationships. This is where the Personal CRM becomes handy. You can set reminders for sending regular updates, sharing interesting articles, or just checking in.
Maintaining regular contact shows your interest in the relationship and keeps you top-of-mind for any opportunities that may arise. As an MBA student, this could mean internships, job offers, or even partnerships in entrepreneurial ventures.
Consider these frequency suggestions for staying connected:
- Monthly: Reach out with a quick update, share relevant articles, or inquire about their recent projects.
- Quarterly: Share your progress, discuss industry trends, or ask for advice on a specific topic.
- Bi-annually: Check in on a more personal level, update them about your milestones, and express your continued interest.
- Annually: Share your major achievements, discuss long-term goals, and express gratitude for their mentorship.
- Event-Driven: Whenever you attend a relevant event, conference, or seminar, drop a message to share your insights and inquire about their experiences.
In summary, a Personal CRM can be a powerful tool for managing and maintaining relationships as you navigate your MBA journey and beyond.
Overcoming Networking Challenges
Networking can come with its fair share of challenges. However, equipped with the right tools and strategies, you can effectively overcome these obstacles.
Common Networking Challenges and How to Overcome Them:
As an MBA student, you might face a few hurdles while networking. These could include a lack of time, difficulty in initiating conversations, or fear of rejection. Here's how you can tackle them:
Lack of Time:
As a busy MBA student, finding time for networking can be tough. One strategy is to integrate networking into your existing schedule. Attend events hosted by your school, participate in study groups, or make the most of professional platforms like LinkedIn during your downtime.
Starting a conversation can be intimidating, especially with established professionals. Preparation can help. Research the person you're meeting, understand their interests, and prepare a few conversation starters related to their field or common interests.
Fear of Rejection:
The fear of rejection can hold you back. However, remember that everyone faces rejection. It's a part of the networking process. Don't let a 'No' discourage you. Instead, use it as an opportunity to learn and grow.
Michelle Lederman's "The 11 Laws of Likability" and Overcoming Networking Hurdles:
Michelle Lederman's "The 11 Laws of Likability" provide valuable insights into overcoming networking challenges. Here are a few takeaways, tailored for MBA students:
The Law of Authenticity:
Be genuine in your interactions. People appreciate authenticity, and it helps build trust.
The Law of Perception:
Be aware of how you present yourself. Your body language, communication style, and even online presence can impact people's perception of you.
The Law of Energy:
Positive energy is attractive. Be enthusiastic, open-minded, and supportive in your interactions.
The Law of Curiosity:
Show genuine interest in others. Ask insightful questions and listen attentively to their answers.
The Law of Likability:
People like those who like them. Show appreciation and respect to the people you interact with.
Incorporating these principles into your networking approach can help you build stronger, more meaningful relationships.
Tips on Handling Rejection, Introversion, and Other Hurdles in Networking:
It's important to remember that rejection is not a reflection of your worth. Rather, it's often just a mismatch of interests or timing. Always approach rejection with a learning mindset. Reflect on the experience, identify any areas for improvement, and then move forward.
Introversion and Networking:
If you're an introvert, networking can seem daunting. However, introversion can also be a strength. Introverts often excel at listening and forming deep connections, which are crucial for effective networking. Focus on quality over quantity in your networking efforts.
Overcoming networking challenges is a process of continual learning and growth. With the right mindset and strategies, you can turn these challenges into opportunities for building robust professional relationships.
Networking Throughout the MBA
Networking is an essential aspect of your MBA journey, and its impact extends far beyond the confines of your time in school. This process is continuous, starting before you even commence your MBA and continuing well after you've graduated. Here's a look at how you can network effectively at each stage:
Before the MBA:
Research and Identify:
Before starting your MBA, take time to research and identify professionals in your target industry. Start engaging with them through various channels, including LinkedIn and other professional platforms.
Connect with Future Classmates:
Many MBA programs have online groups for incoming students. Join these communities and start getting to know your future peers.
Reach Out to Alumni:
Connect with alumni from the MBA program. They can provide valuable insights into the program and share advice based on their experiences.
During the MBA:
Involve yourself in as many activities as possible. Clubs, study groups, case competitions, and networking events are excellent opportunities to meet and interact with a diverse group of people.
Leverage School Resources:
Your school's career services department can be an invaluable resource. Attend the workshops they organize and take advantage of the networking opportunities they provide.
Connect with Professors and Guest Speakers:
They have vast industry experience and connections. Building a relationship with them could open up numerous opportunities.
After the MBA:
Stay in Touch:
Maintain your connections with classmates, professors, and professionals you met during your MBA. Remember that networking is a long-term investment.
Engage with Alumni Communities:
Participate in alumni events and online communities. Not only can you reconnect with your classmates, but also meet alumni from other batches.
Join professional organizations, attend industry conferences, and continually expand your network.
A Deep-Dive into Networking Within Your Target Industry:
As an MBA student, networking within your target industry is crucial. Here's how you can do it effectively:
Attend conferences, webinars, and workshops relevant to your industry. These events are excellent opportunities to meet professionals and learn about the latest industry trends.
Join LinkedIn groups related to your industry. Participate in discussions and share your insights.
Conduct informational interviews with professionals in your industry. This can give you a better understanding of the industry while helping you forge new connections.
Key points to keep in mind:
- Inform the interview what time you are available and keep the meeting to 30 minutes
- Prepare your questions
- Always end Informational Interview with the question: “Who else should I be
- speaking with? Could you recommend someone for me to learn about XYZ?”
- Take notes and go back to your Personal CRM to track it
- Send thank you notes
- Do not ask for job in the first conversation
- Lose track of time
- Do not excessively self-promote
- Ask questions about topics they’re not familiar with (i.e. if you’re speaking with someone in Marketing, don’t ask them about the Finance internship)
Pay Attention to Industry Leaders:
Follow industry leaders on social media and engage with their content. This can keep you updated on industry news and could potentially put you on their radar.
Networking throughout your MBA journey requires strategic planning, initiative, and consistent effort. By networking effectively at each stage, you can significantly enhance your MBA experience and set the stage for a successful career in your target industry.
Networking in your MBA journey is will be present throughout the entire program. It's as important to your personal growth as much as it is your professional life. This guide highlights its substantial impact, fostering fulfilling social and career connections. Networking with intention is key to making the most of the program you're taking the time to do.
Remember, networking isn't a quick win, but a gradual effort. Think of it as a lifestyle, as Keith Ferrazi's "Never Eat Alone" suggests. And to be more effective as a MBA and professional, you'll need to make sure you have a 'system' for efficient networking. Using integrated tools like Dex, or a maintained spreadsheet, are crucial to staying on top of all your meetings and communication.
Networking is a journey, not a destination. By embracing it with curiosity, genuine care for others, and a commitment to growth, the reward of a well-networked MBA is beyond invaluable.
As you embark on your journey to enhance your networking skills, we also want to highlight Dex, a highly effective CRM (Customer Relationship Management) platform that can help you expand and manage your network effortlessly.
Dex is specifically designed for MBA students like you who are seeking to build meaningful connections with peers, mentors, and potential employers. Its user-friendly interface allows you to organize and track your networking activities efficiently. With features like personalized contact management, follow-up reminders, and note-taking capabilities, you can ensure that no valuable connection slips through the cracks.
Take advantage of Dex to supercharge your networking efforts and build a strong and diverse network that will open doors to exciting opportunities throughout your MBA journey and beyond. As you invest in your networking skills, Dex will become your trusted companion in cultivating professional relationships that can propel your career to new heights.
MBA Discount: sign up for a 7-day trial and use the coupon code: MBA2023 to get a 50% discount on your first year.
As an MBA student, honing your networking skills is a continuous journey. Here are some recommended resources that can offer insights, strategies, and tactics to boost your networking prowess.
This book shares invaluable insights about creating and leveraging connections professionally and personally.
This guide offers a systematic, efficient approach to targeting potential employers, making it particularly useful for MBA students entering or re-entering the job market.
An evergreen guide to building relationships and influencing others, essential skills in networking.
Learn about the key principles of persuasion to become more effective at influencing others.
This book discusses the power of reciprocity in professional relationships, a crucial element in networking.
Offers practical advice for mastering personal and professional relationships.
Provides thought-provoking ideas on leadership and management, including effective networking strategies.
Hear from successful entrepreneurs about how they grew their companies, with insights into networking strategies.
This podcast explores better ways to work and live, including tips on building professional relationships.
Has several courses on professional networking and relationship building.
Offers online courses like "Successful Negotiation: Essential Strategies and Skills" and "Improving Communication Skills" that can boost your networking skills.
This platform allows you to find and build local communities where you can network with like-minded individuals.
Useful for finding professional events and networking opportunities in your area.
Bumble Bizz and Shapr:
Networking platforms that can help you find mentors, network with professionals, and create new career opportunities.