3 Tips for Networking in B-School:
Business school is not just about attending class, graduating, and finding a job. Business school also provides students with the opportunity to build relationships with other career-oriented individuals from various industries all over the world. One day you could be sharing nachos with a lawyer from Cambridge who wants to change careers to accounting, and the next day you could be playing volleyball with a former fighter pilot who wants to secure a management position in San Diego.
So how can you make those necessary connections with a variety of people as you go through your MBA program? Here are three tips for networking in business school:
Networking tip #1: connect with your classmates
Your b-school cohort is rich with individuals who have interesting backgrounds. As much as possible, learn more about who these people are—why did they decide to go to business school, and what do you have in common? You can accomplish this by:
- Striking up a conversation during orientation.
- Sharing your thoughts during a club event.
- Comparing notes after a company presentation.
Networking tip #2: learn from second-year students
The cohort above you has been through many b-school experiences already, so they know the ins and outs. Second-year students offer living proof that you can survive the first year of your MBA program, which can be an intense time. Ask them about their experiences thus far, including any advice on which classes to take, case competitions to participate in, or companies to intern with. Even though they may seem to be omnipotent individuals who have it all together, second-year students are under their own pressures as well. Reminding them of the valuable knowledge they possess by soliciting advice can benefit both parties.
Networking tip #3: meet MBA students from other programs
Conferences like NAWMBA, NBMBAA, Net Impact, Prospanica, and Reaching Out not only allow students to interact with companies from across the U.S. in a central location, they also provide great opportunities to build relationships with fellow b-school students who you otherwise wouldn’t have a chance to meet. Prepare for these nationwide conferences in advance by seeing who else in your class will be attending. You can then work together to introduce one another to people who you should know.
If you attend business school in an area with other programs nearby, you can also meet up with MBA students in your town. For example, Chicago has multiple business schools, including DePaul University (Kellstadt), Loyola University Chicago (Quinlan), Northwestern University (Kellogg), and University of Chicago (Booth). You can also attend general MBA mixers for people who attend or have graduated from business school. By expanding your networking horizons outside of your university’s campus, you can stand out by allowing for more opportunities to build connections than the ones conveniently available in your particular MBA program.
In addition to your fellow b-school students, you can also reach out to the faculty and staff at your school to grow your connections. Your school’s alumni network can also be a great resource while you are completing your program, as well as after you graduate.
Overall, networking is the key to building your career, both inside and outside of business school. Use your MBA time to meet new people, make new friends, and develop relationships you otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to create.