ADVICE

Networking is critical to success – here’s how MBA students can do it effectively

SOURCE: MARK LARGE / POOL / AFP
Whether you are applying to business school or you are already an MBA student, a strong network will position you for success at every stage of your career.


By U2B Staff 

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Opportunities come and go, but for MBA graduates, connections are forever. Effective networking is an essential part of the MBA experience. Whether it’s with students within your cohort, the faculty or alums, building lasting connections can be an invaluable resource in building your career. This is echoed in an article published by LinkedIn, which found that 80% of professionals considered networking essential to their career success. Over 60% found that with regular communication, their professional network gives them more opportunities. 

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MBA programmes — especially top ones — often attract an international cohort of students from a broad range of industries and professions, making it an invaluable place to build one’s professional network. This can help you with your job search or in climbing up the corporate ladder. If you’re looking for tips to help with the networking process, here’s how you can do it:

Start networking while applying to business schools

Are you currently applying for an MBA programme? Consider contacting the business school you’re interested in to find out more about their professional networking opportunities to help with your decision-making process. If possible, consider sitting in on classes and getting to know the faculty or the professors to find out more about the curriculum. This can also pave the way for you to get to know some of the current students in the programme and build your network. Effective networking entails starting early and being strategic about what you do, and how you do it.

Work the classroom

If you’re already enrolled in an MBA programme, it’s essential that you network with other students, including those from different parts of the world. So dig deep, step out of your comfort zone, and take the initiative. You could do this by signing up for events, getting over your fear of striking up conversations with strangers, and inviting contacts you’ve made out for coffee or events. Building a professional network allows you to exchange information and learn from others. To boot, many of these individuals may assume more prominent and powerful managerial roles in their organisations, which can open the door for you to work with your dream organisation. 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.

Make use of social media

LinkedIn is a popular platform for many, including business school students. Consider adding people you’ve met on LinkedIn after meeting them, and stay in touch by liking or sharing their posts. Don’t be afraid to send the occasional DM — effective networking takes effort, after all.  LinkedIn can also be a useful way to connect with people you’ve not met in real life. Drop a message with your connection request when getting in touch with new people. Be sure to personalise your message to improve your chances of connecting with other professionals. 

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Set your goals

It’s easy to let networking take a backseat when things get busy. Instead, set goals for yourself, like trying to connect with at least one or two people a week. Focus on quality instead of quantity.  If your schedule is packed, even one connection a month could benefit you in the long run. 

Volunteer

Volunteering can be a great way to practice effective networking. You could volunteer with an organisation for a role that is in-line with your career goals and aspirations. This gives your the platform to connect with like-minded professionals, gain early exposure in your target industry, as well as valuable skills and experiences.