Success in Business School? It’s All About Networking
“It’s not what you know, but who you know.” Ah, that’s the lament of every student with a perfect grade point and a scrawny EQ. Your book smarts and ingenuity may unleash game-changing innovation – or save a company from tragic mistakes at the very least. But nothing can ever happen if you don’t have the relationships and moxie that confers credibility.
If you’re heading to business school to learn about TQM or synergies, you’re missing the point, no different than if you plunked down $175 to watch a football game at a stadium. You come to business school to get close to the action, for the experience as much as the know-how. And a big part of that experience is developing life-long connections and friendships with talents who can eventually serve as sounding boards, clients, and even partners.
It’s all about networking. Who you know can make your endeavors simpler, faster, less expensive, and more effective. In a recent Brazen Careerist column, Ryan Hickey, the Managing Editor of Peterson’s and EssayEdge, shared some of his insights on how MBA students can make the most of their two-window with networking.
For Hickey, the first step is the simplest (yet most likely to get bungled): “Win friends now to do business later.” Don’t start with the intention of building a network, Hickey implores. Instead, focus on building relationships. In doing so, offer value to the other person, whether it is support, expertise, or even humor.
As you’d expect, Hickey touts projects and clubs as one way to buiid friendships. However, maintaining them – especially after graduation – is more difficult. While Facebook or Twitter can lessen the divide, Hickey suggests something more personal.
“A friend of mine takes the time to call at least one of his friends every day on a rotating basis — just to jaw about what’s going on in their life. It turns out that this has been a wonderfully fruitful way to get business done, too. People enjoy it when you reach out “just because,” and it can have unintended financial benefits.”
Hickey also counsels readers to cozy up to professors for a number of reasons. For starters, they can guide you on everything from understanding confusing concepts to making yourself more appealing to employers. They can plug you into their network if they trust and respect you. And you can even practice networking on them, Hickey adds. “Here are people in a power position who want to help you succeed. If talking with them makes you nervous, then imagine what it will be like to talk to a stranger who is the gatekeeper at the company of your dreams. Taking the time to connect with teachers who have a vested interest in you and with whom you have a built-in reference point will help prepare you for the more nerve-wracking interviews coming after graduation.”
Finally, Hickey reminds readers to “Always play nice” – not always easy in a small campus pond packed with Type A strivers who’ve already scored some big-time accomplishments. “Developing a reputation for being foolish, hard to work with, or just a jerk will alienate people and harm your career choices,” Hickey writes. “There is plenty of time to be difficult long after you’ve scored the corner office. For now, try to make nice. Be sure to contribute meaningfully to class projects, avoid showboating, and try not to talk down to others (even if they really seem to deserve it).”
For additional advice from Hickey, click on the Brazen Careerist link below.
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Source: Brazen Careerist