MBA consultant lists 3 networking hacks for MBA students
An article published by LinkedIn states that 80% of professionals consider networking important to their career success and more than 60% of professionals find that with regular communication their professional network gives them more opportunities.
The peers, professors, and business leaders you meet in business school are some of the most important individuals you will meet on your professional journey as they go on to form your professional network.
Career networking involves building contacts that will support you in your job search and will help you meet your career goals.
In fact, networking is so critical to your success that former President of the New York Stock Exchange, Tom Farley said: “I owe every job I’ve ever had to networking.”
How much of your focus should ideally be on networking while studying for your MBA?
U2B reached out to Duncan Chapple, ABD doctoral researcher at the University of Edinburgh business school who specialises in teaching and researching new ventures and new markets. Chapple’s research focuses on informatics and digital entrepreneurship.
Chapple has also lectured at the Lancaster, Manchester, Sheffield, and Nottingham business schools.
He also has a track record of matching professionals to the right MBA and the right business school for years and is a business school admissions consultant.
Chapple recommends that the most important thing an MBA student needs to keep in mind is their end goal. An MBA student needs to understand what they want out of the MBA, then decide how to allocate their time accordingly.
Chapple says that there is a strong need to prioritise, as an MBA student cannot possibly give a 100% at everything.
Chapple says, “For example, if you want to be on the Dean’s list and if you aspire to be someone whose academic performance is most notable, then you’ll have to make some choices. You will have to do less time networking, spend less time attending academic events. You’ll probably have to take electives where it’s going to be easier if you had to get high marks because the materials are more familiar to you.”
On the other hand, Chapple recommends that an MBA student who is focused on making a career transition should spend more time taking courses that are more challenging or courses that are less familiar. This will allow the student to effectively expand their knowledge and skills.
However, Chapple believes that an MBA student will more likely focus on networking with students and employers that are from the market. He adds, “In an MBA, start with the end in mind. Think about the resources that the MBA provides you, and then focus on the ones that are going to deliver the best outcomes for you.
Top 3 ways an MBA student can develop their professional network
Chapple recommends three ways where an MBA student can build their professional network.
The first way is by networking with the other students in your MBA class, the second is by networking with the other people you meet on campus and the third is by making connections with alumni members.
Networking with the other students in your programme is important as it will help you build connections with people from all over the world, and who will go on to work in other parts of the world and who will also go on to assume various roles across the globe. The connections you make with your class members will be invaluable in terms of the rich experience and knowledge that you can share and use to your mutual benefit.
These connections will also open new opportunities and provide you with insight or knowledge that helps you in applying for roles as you climb up the career ladder.
Subsequently, these individuals will go on to assume larger and more powerful managerial roles in their organisations and this can open significant inroads for you to work with your dream organisation.
There is a wealth of benefits in maintaining these connections by staying in touch with them, given the value that it can bring, not only for the present but also for the future.
The people you meet on campus while pursuing an MBA are also valuable assets to your professional network. These individuals could be faculty personnel who are also employers, and also other students from different programmes.
Chapple also said, “I found LinkedIn to be a really powerful way of turning shallow connections into lifelong connections that can deliver value when you need to access information or resources that those people might have access to.”
He adds that networking with alumni is a really powerful skill – and this can be accomplished by attending alumni events or by reaching out to alumni via LinkedIn.
He adds that MBA students should ideally offer value to their connections first, and that is why it is important to build on your personal branding first.
“If you’re able to find ways to share your values, share your insights through blogs, through social media, and use that to as podcasts or if you are able to build up your profile to build up the perception of the value that you’re giving to people, you really are giving people value. They will be much more likely to help you in the future,” he concludes.
Building your professional network while completing an online MBA
An online MBA programme does not provide the same networking opportunities, unlike an on-campus programme but it is also possible to develop your professional network with an online MBA.
An online MBA student would have to take the networking component of the programme into their own hands, and consciously work hard to seek out and build connections.
Essentially an online MBA student will have to put in some effort to develop professional relationships with their peers and mentors through various online mediums that are a part of the MBA programme or outside it.
While this may seem like a challenge, the reverse is actually true as you might be able to build stronger and more meaningful connections with others while improving your online communication skills.
Online MBA programmes generally offer online workshops or webinars specifically devoted to the subject of networking online which is beneficial to students.
Online professional networking platforms are also available for MBA students to build connections, starting from your peers and professors, and slowly working your way up.
While the experience may be different, it is possible to build a network whether you choose an online MBA or an on-campus MBA programme.