To give you a head start and keep you on track in the New Year, Personal MBA Coach has launched a 4-part series this January: Kick-Start Your MBA Planning!
Check out part four in the series: Building Your Network For Long-Term Success
It should come as no surprise that networking should be a key part of every long-term career strategy. It is also something that many struggle with. To get you on the right path this year, Personal MBA Coach has some tips on when and how to start networking.
It is never too early to start networking. Whether you are planning to apply to business school later this year or a few years from now, a strong network will position you for success. There are four areas where you should look to build your network: at work, with alumni/students from your target schools, with professionals in your preferred field, and with admissions professionals.
While each of these is worthy of its own blog, in the spirit of “Kick Starting Your MBA Planning,” I have included one goal for each of these networks for now.
Network at work
Find one mentor at work and begin to establish this relationship. Look for someone who knows you well and is more experienced. This relationship can help you in a few key ways. First, if the relationship progresses, this can be a source of solid career advice from someone who can identify your strengths and weaknesses. Second, in an ideal world, this mentor can serve as a letter of recommendation (LOR) source when the time comes. However, don’t force the relationship. Start slowly with coffee or lunch, ask a lot of questions, and see if there is a good fit. Remember, finding a true mentor is a process, so don’t get discouraged if it takes time to find the right person.
January goal: Schedule one lunch or coffee.
Network with alums at your target business schools
Speaking to current students or alumni at your schools of choice is an important part of the process. Many candidates ask me how many students they should reach out to. I advise two or three per school. Having a laundry list of students that you have reached out to is not necessary and including it anywhere in your application would be overkill for most schools. Instead, try to have a few meaningful conversations. Alumni directories from your undergraduate university or current/former firm and your personal network are great places to start.
January goal: Locate and email two students about their business school experiences.
Network with professionals in your target field
Setting up these relationships now is a great way to get a head start for recruiting time. Start small by finding someone who has your dream role and invite her for coffee. Tell her you want to learn more about the job and how she got there. Most people love to talk about themselves and are happy to help aspiring professionals. Avoid being too pushy. Meet at a time and place convenient for her and don’t ask for anything. This is not the time to ask for help getting a job or a recommendation. Instead, learn more about her and the position and let the relationship grow organically. For many, speaking with strangers can be intimidating but don’t let this stop you. Starting with alumni from your alma mater or friends of friends/family can be an easier place to begin.
January goal: Reach out to one professional and ask for a meeting.
Network with admissions professionals
While there are many ways to connect with your target schools, MBA fairs are a great way to start. You can meet multiple admissions professionals in one place and ask any burning questions. You will also get tips from the presentations and other students. Plus, it is an easy, low risk way to begin the process. For those in the New York area, I will be presenting at the MBA Tour in New York City on February 3rd so come check it out! If you aren’t nearby or can’t make this event, the MBA Tour, Forte Foundation and many other organizations have tours throughout the world.
January goal: Locate one event in your area and register/put it on your calendar.
Remember, networking is a skill and one you should perfect throughout your career. So, start small and take one step today!
Wherever you are in the MBA application process, Personal MBA Coach is here to help. We cover everything from early planning, to GMAT/GRE/EA tutoring to comprehensive packages! We have been guiding candidates through all aspects of the MBA application process for over 10 years with a 96% success rate.
Call us today at 617-645-2424 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation on your profile along with how we can help make your career dreams a reality!