The Best B-School Alumni Networks


The Best Alumni Networks

Raise your hand if you enjoy networking.

Wow, tough crowd. But that’s the response you normally get. For many, networking is awkward. It’s hard enough to strike up a conversation with a stranger. But networking takes it to another level.

And I’m not just talking about those events where you have a “My name is…” label slapped on your chest. True, most of us associate networking with “working the room.” The extroverts attack their target list; the introverts sidle over to anyone who hasn’t joined a pack. We share the same tired stories, evaluating if the other person is a business prospect (or knows someone who might be). The best make you feel like the most important person in the room. The rest of us often fumble our way through it.

That’s not by accident. Regardless of forum, networking often involves asking for something. That means you can get shot down or (worse) be in someone’s debt. Not to mention, someone may just ask you for something in return (and that can be time-consuming or tricky too). In the end, it’s still a shot in the dark. You just hope you find the right people with the right interests in the right mood.

And that’s one reason why business school is so attractive. Here, you can join like-minded people. You can share experiences and build relationships over time, without the pressure of quarterly quotas and red-soaked financials. You are part of a community – and that extends well beyond your graduating class. In fact, many b-school grads students (and grads) reach out to alumni as much as peers. It’ natural: People want to help those with whom they share a common bond. Attending their alma mater proves that you have the chops to be a difference-maker. It is that unspoken reinforcement that you are worth their time.

Question is, which alumni networks will offer the biggest bang for the tuition buck? The Economist might have an answer there.  Each year, as part of its annual business school rankings, it includes “Potential to Network” as 10% of each school’s ratings. This number is based on three equally-weighted categories: The ratio of MBA alumni to current full-time MBA students; the number of overseas chapters; and the student rating of alumni network (which is based on surveys from 12,946 respondents from 100 business schools).

This year, there was quite a shake up in the rankings. Last year, four European programs (and Thunderbird) made the top 10. This year, only one European school – IMD – cracked the top 10 (at number 10, no less). What’s more, only three schools – University of Notre Dame (Mendoza), the University of Southern California (Marshall), and the University of Virginia (Darden) – repeated in the top 10.

This year – drum roll please – the top spot belonged to Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business.  So what sets Tuck apart? For starters, the school is known for a tight-knit student community. The students have a reputation for being friendly and supportive. In fact, many students live together in the dorms, rather than in apartments, further deepening their bonds. The school is also renowned for being very student-centric and club-driven, with accessible faculty and world-class research centers. The intimacy of small town New Hampshire, coupled with a business school comprised almost exclusively of full-time MBA students, further enables students to remove distractions and develop relationships. And the “niceness” of the Tuck culture carries on after graduation. In fact, 70% of Tuck alums donate back to their school each year – nearly three times more than b-schools on average according to Poets&Quants.

In other words, they are the perfect alumni to approach when you’re looking for guidance (or working capital for that matter). In fact, on the five point scale used by The Economist to measure the usefulness of alumni networks, Tuck notched a near-perfect score (4.98).

Stanford, which was unranked last year, jumped up to number two in networking. After ranking number six last year, Notre Dame climbed to number three. They were followed by Darden (last year’s number ten) and Ross. Marshall climbed from number eight to number six.

There were also some significant drops over the previous year. Last year’s top five – HEC Paris, Vierick Leuven Gent, Thunderbird, New York University (Stern), and California-Berkeley (Haas) – all dropped out of the top five. In fact, several top American and overseas institutions failed to make the top ten for networking, including Wharton, Booth, Kellogg, the London Business School, Columbia University, IESE, INSEAD, Esade, MIT Sloan, and IE Business School.

Student Ranking of Alumni Network Usefulness

Rank Business School Rating (Out of 5) Economist Rank Overall
 1  Dartmouth College Tuck School of Business  4.98  2
 2  Stanford University Graduate School of  Business  4.90  9
 3  University of Notre Dame Mendoza College of  Business  4.89  45
 4  University of Virginia Darden School of  Business  4.84  3
 5  University of Michigan Stephen M. Ross  School of Business  4.81  20
 6  University of Southern California Marshall  School of Business  4.81  64
 7  Cornell University Samuel Curtis Johnson  Graduate School of Management  4.80  23
 8  University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler  Business School  4.72  35
 9  Harvard Business School  4.71  6
10  IMD (International Institute of Management  Development / Switzerland)  4.71  21

Source: The Economist

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Source: The Economist


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