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MBA Networking Tips

Making connections at your prospective business school is vital to the success of your application. When the AdCom reads your application, they are in part trying to “see” you at their school.

That’s why it’s important to start networking early in your MBA journey. The best way for you to demonstrate your fit with an MBA program is to talk about the positive interactions you’ve had with other MBA 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.

Well connected people make for promising new students, and your primary focus should be threefold: gathering information to gain a deeper insight into the school’s culture and important aspects of the MBA course, establishing relationships with students and alumni who share common interests with you, and deciding what differentiates the top universities in your eyes.

MBA Networking Tip #1: Make the most of out of the campus visit

Campus visits are the most efficient method for effective networking and establishing yourself as a candidate for admission. You get a feeling for the school and what a typical day in the life of an MBA student might be like. In a single day, you can usually visit classes, speak to admissions staff, and meet with current MBA students and faculty.

However, not all campus visits are created 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 key points of conversations or kicking yourself over a lost opportunity to ask someone a certain question. It is important to:

  1. 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 fellow 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.
  2. Check out student clubs and organizations. Does this business school have specific clubs for aspiring entrepreneurs, students with an interest in consulting, investing, or whatever particular field you’re interested in? Make note of how these organizations are run and consider how you would help them develop in the future.
  3. Pay attention to how business schools interact with other parts of their universities and local business communities. This can be a great asset to MBA graduates who are on a job search. Many business schools consider their connections to industry and to other academic departments as an important point, and you should consider how these opportunities can help ensure your career success.

MBA Networking Tip #2: There are ways to network even if you can’t visit campus

Campus visits may be the most efficient and direct way to connect with a school, but they are not practical for all applicants, especially international ones. Fortunately, there are many other networking opportunities available, and there is always a way to connect with the school:

  1. Attend in-person MBA networking events. These are a highly efficient way to meet multiple schools at once.
  2. Nearly all schools offer off-campus informational interviews and events for prospective MBA students to attend. Find one near you, or even look into online MBA networking events if there is nothing nearby.
  3. If informational MBA networking events aren’t available near you, look to see if there is a professional network of local alumni. The school alumni network is often willing to speak informally with prospective MBA applicants.
  4. Find alumni in your personal network: colleagues, clients, or business partners.
  5. Make contact directly through email or LinkedIn. At some programs, current MBA 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.

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MBA Networking Tip #3: Don’t underestimate virtual campus visits

Due to the widespread disruption caused by the coronavirus, MBA programs and their admissions departments have found creative ways to facilitate remote campus visits and other networking activities. In addition to pre-recorded and live campus tours, most top MBA programs host a wide variety of online networking events, ranging from informal coffee chats to virtual admissions events and even mock business school classes.

These events are a great opportunity to learn more about your target program and to make connections with current students. Spend some time researching the virtual events your target program has to offer, identify one or two that would be relevant to your profile, and take advantage of these events while you can.

The importance of making connections

It’s important to forge relationships with current MBA students, faculty and alumni as creating a personal connection enriches your understanding of what a given MBA program can do for you—and what you can do for the school. Remember: networking should lead to the cultivation of a mutually beneficial relationship between business schools and their prospective students.

It is wise to make connections to the people who will someday be your fellow students, mentors, and influential industry professionals and prospective employers. Making contacts today can be a big boost for your career in the future, but right now, make sure you focus on relating what you learned in your application materials.

If we can do it…

You can too!

David White at Yale School of Management
Yale SOM
David White at Tuck School of Business
Tuck
David White at UC Berkeley Haas
Haas
David White at Wharton
Wharton
David White at NYU Stern
NYU Stern
David White at UVA Darden School of Business
Darden
David White at UNC Kenan-Flagler
UNC Kenan-Flagler
David White at Kellogg School of Business
Kellogg
David White at Columbia Business School
Columbia