As a business school student, you’ve embarked on a journey to expand your knowledge, hone your skills, and lay the groundwork for a successful career in the corporate world. However, business school is not just about studying theories and crunching numbers; it’s also about building relationships, making connections, and expanding your professional network. Networking is a crucial skill that can open doors to opportunities, and mastering it can give you a competitive edge in the business world.
Here are ten tips for networking and building connections in business school to help you maximize your experience and set yourself up for success.
1. Be Proactive and Start Early
Networking and building connections should start from day one of your business school journeys. Don’t wait until your last semester or when you’re about to graduate. Attend orientation events, join clubs and organizations, and participate in networking events. Take every opportunity to meet fellow students, alums, professors, and professionals in your field of interest.
2. Be Genuine and Authentic
Authenticity is key when networking. Be yourself and be genuine in your interactions with others. Avoid trying to impress others with exaggerated stories or pretending to be someone you’re not. People are more likely to connect with you when they sense you are genuine. Listen actively, and show genuine curiosity in their stories and experiences. Authentic connections lead to long-term relationships.
3. Leverage online platforms and resources:
With online programs in business, students have access to a wide range of virtual platforms and resources that can facilitate networking and connection-building. Take advantage of online discussion boards, virtual networking events, and social media groups dedicated to your program or industry. These platforms can provide opportunities to connect with fellow students, alums, and industry professionals, share insights, and collaborate on projects. Additionally, use online resources such as career services websites, alum directories, and online databases to research and connect with potential mentors or contacts in your field.
4. Attend Networking Events with a Plan
Networking events can be overwhelming, with so many people to meet and so little time. To make the most of these events, come prepared with a plan. Research the attendees and speakers beforehand, and identify the key individuals you want to connect with. Prepare a brief introduction and some conversation starters to break the ice. Be confident and approachable, and make sure to exchange contact information with the people you meet. Follow up with a personalized thank-you note or email after the event to reinforce the connection and express your interest in staying in touch.
5. Build Relationships, Not Just Contacts
Networking is not just about collecting business cards or adding connections on LinkedIn; it’s about building relationships. Focus on building genuine relationships with the people you meet rather than just trying to expand your contact list. Take the time to follow up with your connections and nurture the relationship over time. Stay in touch with your classmates, alums, professors, and professionals in your field through emails, coffee meetings, or social events. Share updates, offer help, and show genuine interest in their careers and lives. Building meaningful relationships takes time and effort, but it’s an investment that can pay off in the long run.
6. Offer Value and Help Others
Networking is not just about what you can get from others; it’s also about what you can offer. Be proactive in offering value and help to others without expecting anything in return. Share your knowledge, insights, and resources. Offer to help others in their projects, assignments, or job searches. Volunteer for school events or community initiatives to contribute to the business school community and make a positive impression.
By offering value and helping others, you not only build a reputation as someone generous and reliable, but you also create opportunities for reciprocity, where others may be more inclined to help you in return.
7. Utilize Alumni and Career Services
One of the greatest assets of business schools is their alum network. Alums can provide valuable insights, advice, and connections to help you in your career journey. Utilize your school’s alum network by attending events, contacting alums for informational interviews, or joining alum groups online. Many business schools also have dedicated career services departments that offer resources, workshops, and networking events to help students connect with employers and alums in their fields of interest. Take advantage of these resources and tap into the power of your school’s alum network to expand your connections and gain industry insights.
8. Be Strategic and Targeted
Networking can be overwhelming, with many people to connect with and events to attend. To make your networking efforts more effective, be strategic and targeted. Identify your career goals and the type of connections that can help you achieve them. Research and prioritize events, organizations, and individuals that align with your career interests and values. Keep yourself thin by trying to network with everyone. Instead, focus on building quality relationships with a select group of individuals who can provide meaningful support and guidance in your career journey.
9. Practice Your Elevator Pitch
An elevator pitch is a concise and compelling introduction that summarizes who you are, what you do, and what value you can offer in a short period, typically 30 seconds to a minute. It’s essential for networking events, job interviews, and other professional settings. Practice your elevator pitch and refine it over time to communicate your brand and create a memorable impression effectively. Keep it concise, confident, and tailored to the context of the event or interaction.
10. Follow Up and Stay Connected
After networking events or initial meetings, remember to follow up and stay connected with your contacts. Send personalized thank-you notes or emails expressing appreciation for the connection and interest in staying in touch. Share relevant updates, articles, or resources that may interest them. Stay engaged on social media by liking, commenting, and sharing their posts. Offer your help or insights whenever possible. Building relationships takes ongoing effort, so stay proactive in nurturing your connections and maintaining a strong network even after your business school days.
Networking and building connections are essential for success in business school and beyond. By being proactive, genuine, and strategic in your networking efforts, you can expand your network, create meaningful relationships, and unlock new opportunities for your career growth. Remember to offer value, practice your elevator pitch, and utilize alums and career services to maximize your networking efforts. With these tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way to mastering the art of networking and building connections in business school.