Why MBA Networking is Critical

Whether you’re an aspiring MBA student, a current one, or an alumni, networking is one of the most important things you can do. In fact, it’s so important that the President of the New York Stock Exchange, Tom Farley once said: “I owe every job I’ve ever had to networking.”.

The fact is that networking provides an incredible amount of benefits. If you aren’t able to build a strong network, you’re going to fall far behind your peers in a wide variety of ways. Here are some of the most important benefits MBA networking can provide:

  • Access to knowledge. Everybody has a perspective and expertise beyond your own. Whether they work in a different segment, industry, or just another company, you’ll benefit from seeing somebody else’s point of view. Throughout your career and education, it will be incredibly beneficial to have people you can reach out to for quick advice and information.
  • Career opportunities. Evidence still suggests that networking is the number one way that most people land jobs. In fact, many positions aren’t ever even posted – they’re filled through referrals and connections. If you want access to a large job pool, you’ll need to spend as much time networking as you possibly can.
  • Improved profile. Spending time networking makes you more visible in your community and industry. If a prospect recognizes your face or name, they’re going to be much more receptive to you. The stronger your personal brand is, the more valuable you’ll be as an employee or entrepreneur.
  • An even larger network. When you make a connection with somebody, you’re gaining the opportunity to connect with their network, too. Down the line, for example, you might need to connect with the VP of an important prospect. Having an enormous network greatly improves the chances that you’ll have somebody who can introduce you to that contact.

And that’s only considering networking during and after obtaining your MBA. Networking before applying to a program can help give you important connections that allow you to land admission to your dream school.

It’s clear that networking is vital to any MBA student. The questions are exactly who you should try to reach out to, and how you should go about doing it. Below, we’ll discuss exactly what you need to consider for strategic networking as you apply to MBA programs, as you’re working toward it, and after you graduate.

Networking Prior to Your MBA

As discussed above, networking prior to your MBA gives you the chance to get your foot in the door. You can ask important questions about the application prospect and get a feel for whether or not the school is a good fit for your career goals. If your connections are powerful enough, they could even be the difference between being accepted or rejected.

Who You Should Network With

When you’re applying for an MBA, you should first look to connect with current students. They’ll be able to give you a better idea about whether the program is a good fit. Since they were accepted to the program, they’ll also have valuable advice on how you can tailor your application for admittance.

It’s also worthwhile to try and connect with people who could have a positive influence on your application. This includes people working in the admissions office, important alumni, and the program’s professors. Even if they cannot push your application to the front, they’ll be able to offer some advice on what the decision makers are looking for in a candidate.

How You Should Go About Networking

Networking before you’re admitted to a program is tricky, but it’s certainly possible. Start by checking out the school’s website for any social events. If they’re open to visitors, it’s a great opportunity to connect with the right people. If there aren’t any available, you can try connecting with them on LinkedIn or simply sending an email and asking if they’d be willing to talk for a bit.

Networking During Your MBA

There’s no better time to expand your network than when you’re actively enrolled in an MBA program. Networking allows you to build your career prospects upon graduation and far in the future.

Who You Should Network With

First and foremost, you need to network with your fellow students. These are fellow proven leaders who are showing an active interest in furthering their careers. The odds are high that they’ll be extremely valuable in the years to come.

It’s also extremely worthwhile to make connections with your professors. MBA professors have a wealth of knowledge and experience. Just as importantly, they’re notoriously well-connected themselves. After all, the program’s powerful alumni all passed through their classes.

How You Should Go About Networking

Networking while enrolled in an MBA program is simple. Just take the time to make yourself available. Participate in class discussions and make small talk with your classmates. Email your professors regularly. At this point in your career you have access to an enormous network, it’s just a matter of having the confidence to build those relationships.

A Special Consideration – Networking For Online MBA Students

One of the biggest benefits to a strong MBA program are the networking opportunities it offers. If you’re considering pursuing an online MBA, however, you might be concerned that you won’t be able to develop any connections or meaningful relationships. Luckily, this isn’t true. You just need to be more strategic about your networking.

Here are some important ways you can build a network while pursuing an online MBA:

  • Don’t skip any face-to-face opportunities. Online classes often provide some sort of in-person element, like social events or special lectures. Make sure to take advantage of every single opportunity provided. If you can allow your peers and professors to see your face, they’ll be much stronger connections.
  • Put extra effort into team projects. Team projects are a key component to MBA programs, whether they’re online or offline. Take advantage of these opportunities by staying active in team projects. Stay active on messages boards and bring your own ideas to conference calls. Do everything you can to stay friendly and leave a lasting impression.
  • Leverage the program’s resources. Being an online MBA student doesn’t restrict your access to the school’s facilities. Take advantage of this by reaching out to important faculty, alumni associations, and the career services office. Accessing these people is a great way to expand your network beyond your classmates.

Networking After Your MBA

If you already graduated from your MBA program, it isn’t too late to start networking. In fact, if you don’t already have a strong network, it’s more important to build one than at any other point in the process. You’re already behind your fellow graduates who have a strong professional network and you can’t allow yourself to fall even further behind.

Who You Should Network With

If you haven’t already, it’s worth building the same connections that you should have made previously. This means your former classmates and professors. Beyond that, you’ll want to start making connections with other alumni, whether they graduated in your class or not. It’s also the perfect time to begin connecting with leaders in your industry outside of your MBA program.

How You Should Go About Networking

Networking at this stage in your career takes a little extra effort since you don’t have instant access to your professors and colleagues. Still, it’s worthwhile to simply send them a message seeing how they’re doing or asking a quick question. Keeping in contact with your network is the only way to keep it strong.

You’ll also want to start joining associations built for networking. This includes alumni and professional associations. You’ll need to expand your network as you continue your career progression, and these associations offer access to professionals in various stages of their careers. It’s a great opportunity to either begin your professional network or start expanding it.

Networking is an extremely valuable tool to improve your career prospects, but you need to have the skills and education, too. Start looking for the perfect program for you by using our Online MBA Search tool here!