It is never too early to start building your network! Don’t wait until the second year of your program to begin working on expansion of your network. Start before you even apply! Who in your network can introduce you to someone who recently finished their MBA? Are there women leaders that you aspire to learn from? Maybe you could get introduced to an alumnus of your potential school or potential employers. Take as many opportunities you can to attend events, reach out for informational interviews and grow your professional network.
LinkedIn is a great networking tool as it allows you to connect with people you do know as well as become introduced to someone you may not through existing connections. Reach out to those in your networks, but pay close attention to those in your 2nd or 3rd connection groups, especially when networking or searching for jobs. How is your profile? Are you maximizing your presentation to potential connections?
Formal networks, such as women’s groups, industry groups, alumni events or the chamber of commerce, are great venues to meet people. Women’s groups and networks are an especially powerful tool, as participants are there to help young women advance their careers and grow their own professional networks. Look for women’s leadership programs, initiatives, or other ways to get involved. Industry groups offer an opportunity to expand your professional network in your specific field, meeting someone with different background or experience, or maybe a company you had never heard of. Alumni networks are also a great networking tool, both at the undergraduate and MBA level. Don’t wait until graduation to take advantage – look to attend events throughout your program to meet those in your network and expand your contacts.
Don’t Rely Solely on Electronic Networking
In the current age of LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, email and blogging, it is easy to feel like you are networking all the time. While social networks are powerful tools, don’t rely solely on the work you are doing electronically. Face-to-face meetings are invaluable to making personal connections and developing strong, long-lasting relationships. People remember the impression they made on you, and are more likely to reach out in the future.
Do you have advice for fellow MBA candidates for growing your network? If so, reach out to me!
Forté Fellow and MBA Candidate 2017
Simmons School of Management