I had been in business school for only 2 weeks of orientation and a few days of actual classes when I was already restless for validation that I made the right decision to go back to school. Is this investment going to be worth it? How did I even get accepted? My imposter syndrome was activated, and I needed confirmation that I was on the right track. Scrolling through my school’s newsletter, an endowment announcement caught my eye.
An alumnus of The George Washington University donated several million dollars to develop a leadership institute for Hispanic students. Being a Latina, the first in my family to go to college, and hoping that this MBA would one day put me in a position to donate millions of dollars somewhere, I was inspired by the action and decided to send the donor a thank you note. My gut said I had to do it, even if my brain was sent into a scary “what if” overdrive. It took about an hour of research and a glass of wine to to figure out the best way to contact this person, but at 8:44 PM on September 3, 2015, I sent the following note:
In less than two hours, I got the following response:
I was shocked. This instant reply and request for a follow up was exactly the confirmation that I was in the right place at the right time. Later that week, I received an email introduction to the director of the new leadership institute, and over the course of three years, I met the benefactor and his wife, went to a BBQ hosted at their house, was introduced to media connections and business collaborations, was mentored in my startup, and continued to regularly meet the couple on following trips to DC.
All of this because I had the courage to send a LinkedIn message to a stranger.
Since graduating from bschool, I have returned to The George Washington University as an adjunct lecturer for marketing. Knowing the power of networking and LinkedIn, I assign my Marketing 101 students personal branding assignments to complete on LinkedIn and the results have been pretty amazing:
I have had over 200 students and I have consistently received messages like one ones above. Although many people know how to use LinkedIn, I feel that few know how to truly maximize the power the platform is capable of.
This summer, I developed a challenge for those who want to learn how to use LinkedIn in a non-cringe and authentic way here. Over the course of the fall semester, you’ll receive a weekly assignment via email that can be done in 10 mins or less. The goal is to build confidence on the platform by consistently using it as a way to form genuine connections. And who knows, maybe one day you’ll follow your gut and message a millionaire too!
For the MBAchic community, I offer the following additional tips on how to maximize your LinkedIn profile as an MBA student.
1. Join your university’s alumni groups or pages
This might be an obvious one, but where others stop short is they only follow the business school or the university itself. Join the center for innovation, the cultural center’s alumni group, the film school, etc. These smaller pages often have more engaged audiences so you’re more likely to meet someone you want to connect with.
2. Save job postings of your future jobs
Find a job that is 1-2 steps above what your first job out of business school could be. Look at the requirements. Do they require 3-4 years of demonstrated experience in a skill? Start developing that skill in year 1 of business school so you are ready when the time comes. I recommend downloading as a .pdf all of the jobs you’re interested in, and saving them in a folder to reference when it comes time to update your resume.
3. Post your best student work
If you wrote a paper in your global marketing class, and you want to get a job in marketing, publish your work using LinkedIn Articles. Get bold and tag the brands you wrote about. Invite people into a discussion about your perspective. When it comes time for interviews and networking, you can point to this example to showcase your demonstrated interest in the topic and the companies.
Good luck! And remember, networking is about building connections, and you build connections most authentically when you are having fun, so enjoy the process!
Photos from Lynda T. C. Peralta and Thought Catalog
About the author
Lynda T. C. Peralta
In 2013, Lynda T. C. Peralta had an idea for a travel makeup kit on a train between DC - NYC. Over the next 5 years, she learned how to build a physical product business from scratch. She raised over $55,000 on Kickstarter to launch the product, sold it to people in over 18 countries, pitched it to QVC, Shark Tank, Marriott and more.
Peralta has won countless pitch competitions and been featured in places like Shape Magazine, Good Housekeeping Mag, Buzzfeed, US Weekly, and more, but what she really likes doing is guiding others to tell their story.
She is now the founder of Your Personal Brand Narrative, which helps high achieving women use marketing psychology and networking tips to position themselves for career success: "This is not about finding a business card or a logo to place on your website. This is about collecting all of the stories that make you - YOU - and presenting them in a cohesive way that makes people believe in you."
She is from Los Angeles, and now lives in New York City. She has her undergraduate degree in Communication from the University of Southern California and her MBA from The George Washington University.