Effective Networking for MBA Admissions
Posted by David White
• 3 MIN. READ
Making connections at your prospective schools is vitally important to the success of your applications. When the adcom reads your application, they are in part trying to “see” you at their school. The best way for you to demonstrate your fit with the school is to talk about the positive interactions you’ve had with students, alumni and faculty. This not only shows your fit, but distinguishes you from applicants whose research is limited to what they could do online.
Making the most of out of the campus visit
Campus visits are the most effective way of networking and establishing yourself as candidate for admission. You get a feeling for the school and what a typical day in the life of a student might be like. In a single day, you can usually visit classes, speak to admissions staff, and meet with current students and faculty.
However, not all campus visits are made equal. Sometimes it can be overwhelming to be on campus and your time there can pass in a blur. You may find yourself later struggling to remember important bits of conversations or kicking yourself over a lost opportunity to ask someone a certain question. It is important to:
- Take notes. If you are sitting in on a class, be sure to pay attention not only to what is being taught, but how it is being taught (e.g. the professor’s methods and the ways students contribute). When you are talking with someone, be sure to jot down his/her name and class year, as well as anything of substance you talk about.
- Check out student clubs and organizations. Make note of how they are run and consider how you would contribute.
- Pay attention to how the business school interacts with other parts of the university and the local business community. Many schools consider their connections to industry and to other academic departments as an important point, and you should consider how you would take advantage of these opportunities.
What if I can’t visit the school?
Campus visits may be the most efficient and direct way to establish connections with a school, but are not practical for all applicants, especially international ones. Fortunately, there are many other ways to connect with the school:
- Nearly all schools offer off-campus informational events. Find one near you, or even an online event if there is nothing nearby.
- If informational events aren’t available near you, look to see if there are local alumni meetups. Alumni are often willing to speak informally with prospective applicants.
- Find alumni in your personal network: colleagues, clients, or business partners.
- Make contact directly through email or LinkedIn. At some programs, current students can volunteer as ambassadors and are listed publicly on the school’s website with contact details. But even students who are not listed as ambassadors or alumni are often willing to speak to a prospective applicant who makes a polite, well-informed approach. Find someone with whom you have something in common—a fellow alum of your undergraduate institution, someone from the same industry, or someone originally from the same region or country as you. Ask for a short phone conversation and prepare a few questions beforehand.
The importance of making connections
Establishing relationships with current students, faculty and alumni of a business school enriches your understanding of what that school can do for you—and what you can do for the school. It is important to make these connections and to relate what you learned in your application materials.
If we can do it…
You can too!