Network It Up with MBAchic

Networking with MBAchic

Clearly, networking is important. Attending cocktail hours or “MBA networking mixers” definitely works to help you build your professional network, 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 they could help in your career development, but that’s totally networking. Not all networking needs a fancy label or title.

Networking with MBAchic

Keep it casual

Guys are great at this. Consider the pickup football game: what’s involved? A ball and a stretch of grass. So simple, yet a few hours of touchdowns and field goals is serious face-time. Not every Saturday pickup game leads to a guaranteed job interview, but guys will help each other out in professional settings if they really get along in casual settings and believe each other to be smart and generally good people. Keep it casual: might be easier for an extrovert to say this, but seeing networking as a chance to make a friend who can maybe teach you something new helps to remove some of the pressure associated with a more formal situation.

Make coffee moves

Recently, I decided I would eat lunch with someone new in my MBA program as often as possible. By aiming to meet someone new every month or week, even for a quick coffee break, I’ve been able to network without the pressure (or awkwardness) of a formal professional mixer. Need more structure? Consider joining a committee of a charity, an organization or even your alumni association. There are plenty of opportunities to meet new people and fellow graduate students and really expand your network.

Now, if you are gunning for an internship or looking to move up the ranks in your company, you probably want to be a bit more strategic than you would be when networking within your MBA program. Is there someone who inspires you at your job? Maybe you want to do what your boss does. Ask her if she wants to grab lunch and keep your regular work convo to a minimum. Try to develop a mentor-mentee relationship, but make sure it does not end there, and certainly make sure it’s not a one-sided deal. The key to moving forward is getting that person to be your sponsor – someone who will vouch for you when you’re not in the room.

Put yourself on blast

Don’t be afraid to self-promote (maybe write a piece for MBAchic here). There seems to be a negative view of “self-promoting” women in our society, but things are changing. It’s totally possible — and necessary — to take credit for your accomplishments and who you are without bragging or being annoying (see: Penelope). Finding the right balance between the two can help you get where you want to go, and you’ll meet some new people along the way.

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