Networking. It’s the name of the MBA game and during a typical two year MBA program, the word will be thrown around so many times you’ll start to think it may actually be more important than finals. The truth is, making meaningful professional connections can create as much value for you as your degree, but there’s a right and wrong way to do it. Here are some tips on developing your soft skills and networking effectively:
It is quality that counts. Don’t go to every event, every speaker, and every dinner only to hand out your calling card to every person that glances in your general direction. Don’t follow quantity theory and hope that with all the cards you pass out, someone is bound to call you (this also applies to résumés). It’s a time waster for both parties and your potential professional contacts, professors, and classmates will sense your insincerity.
I recently read a Clear Admit article that offers tips on recommender selection, and started thinking about my own application process (link to Clear Admit article HERE – make sure you read this article. GREAT advice.)…
I had two advisors write on my behalf: the first was a professor with whom I had taken two classes – he wound up advising me on which classes to take in the finance program. Every so often I would pop into his office to ask about another class or professor, and he gave me sound advice about school and life after college. He understood my work ethic and how I would perform in the program, and was an obvious choice.
My other letter came from a mentor who really helped shape my undergraduate experience. He was not an academic advisor, but the director of the volunteer and leadership office at my school. He challenged me to step out of my comfort zone and really pushed me to become a better leader. We keep in touch from time to time and he was a huge part of my college career (it was a no-brainer that I wanted him to write my letter).
But not everyone has the time to join community service groups, and not everyone has a great relationship with one professor or advisor. Let’s face it – life is busy and what if you haven’t had a chance to foster lasting relationships with people outside of your classes?
You’re an MBA now (or you plan to be one very soon). These opportunities to foster relationships with people in different areas of your life are not a waste of time. At this point, you have to be able to market yourself and let people know who you really are – and that requires developing relationships with people you meet in your professional and personal lives. No one is going to vouch for you if you don’t give them good reason. And because you want to put your best foot forward in your applications, your recommendation letters cannot fall short. Continue reading →
Clearly, networking is important. Attending cocktail hours or “MBA networking mixers” here and there definitely works, but really, some of the best networking happens informally, everyday.
Think of your closest friends. You may have met in high school or college, or maybe at the gym. Perhaps you were on the field hockey team, or survived college physics together. When you first met, you probably weren’t thinking about how they might be able to find you a job later in life, or how you could work together, but that’s totally networking.
Men are great at this. Consider pickup football games: what is involved? A football and a stretch of grass. So simple, yet a few hours of touchdowns and field goals equals serious face-time with your new contacts. I’m not suggesting a woman should go invade one of these games (that would be awkward, for you, and for the guys), but I believe we can get better at this.
I am not saying that every player at Saturday’s pickup game is guaranteed a job interview, but I notice guys will help each other out in professional settings if they really get along in casual settings. Women can be just as good at this, but maybe go about it a little differently. Continue reading →
Hi there, and thank you for visiting! I am studying for my MBA in New York City, and recently started the MBAchicblog. I hope to reach fellow female MBA candidates to share and learn from each other. MBAchic is an online resource for female MBAs (and applicants, and career women in general!) and will cover all sorts of topics:
MBA program ratings and testimonials
Advice for applicants
Job search help and advice
Fashion and style
And much more
There are many resources for female MBAs out there (Forté Foundation is fantastic). I hope this blog can offer a relaxed take on the MBA and all that comes with this degree.
I am very excited about this. Please let me know if you have any ideas or suggestions, or just want to send a quick note. Comment below or email me at mbachicblog.