In recent years, social networks and related media channels have brought about significant change in the communications world. Their fast growth relies on the constantly evolving technology they use, which is creating new challenges for people looking to keep pace with new business trends. By Boyana Atanasova, Access MBA Social Networks Coordinator.
Social networks are now part of almost every level of communication, from personal issues and building business strategies to school exam preparations and innovative university tools. They play a key role in our research and are used for adding insight to our projects. Social networks have created a whole new world where people freely share their thoughts and ideas, connect and interact, all led by a specific purpose; a world where information is of the highest value and the speed of its circulation more important than ever.
Social media channels have also spawned revolutionary new approaches in the MBA world. In the past few years, many business schools have come to realise the importance of the social networking channels they use. In many cases, recruitment success for a specific MBA programme can be linked directly to the ability of the school providing that programme to keep well-informed and up-to-date on the speedy development of the online communities recognised by its future students. These fast-growing social networks have also led some business schools to start their own searches for dedicated social networking professionals. “Social media are not marketing toys to be handled by interns but professional communications channels that require understanding of the technology and the community that uses it”, reports The New York Times. At the same time, there is a certain demand for university courses dedicated to social media or built with the help of these new platforms. “To meet this demand for education in social media strategy, several top business schools are incorporating courses on social networks into their MBA curriculums. These include Harvard Business School; London Business School; Insead, the international business school based in Fontainebleau, France; and the École des Hautes Études Commerciales, known as H.E.C., in Paris. MBA curriculums are geared toward students with business intelligence, knowledge of communication trends and a flair for innovation. Social network courses aim to build on their existing skills to teach an understanding of social media, of how to build marketing strategies within social networks and of how to track their effectiveness.”
The same theory is recognised by John Gallaugher, Associate Professor of Information Systems at Boston College’s Carroll School of Management, where Social Media & Web 2.0 for Managers has been offered since September 2010. Gallaugher comments that “social media classes are one way of preparing students for careers in a promising field”.
The rapid evolution of social media did not allow business schools to prepare special textbooks for their courses; instead, they expect students to be open to new sources of information, following industry-specific blogs and sites like Mashable and Groundswell to keep up with the latest developments.
“Very often our perception of social media, and what we can and can’t do using social media, is very much tinted by what we think our favorite person is doing — and our favorite person is usually ourselves. So, it is about getting students to understand that the empirical skills are absolutely necessary, because whatever they think is intuitively correct, is probably correct about themselves, but nobody else”, says Professor Mikolaj Jan Piskorski, Associate Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, for The New York Times.
At the same time, prospective MBA candidates should be aware that new MBA courses in social networks are not the only thing they should be taking into consideration. The internet is probably one of the most powerful search tools at present and candidates should be careful about what they publish online, as it may become critically important when applying for a business school. People from school admission departments probably won’t search for your name on the internet, but it is highly likely that your future colleagues and university friends will search there for more details about you. At some stage, social networks may become an integral part of your professional portfolio. If you are not prepared for such a turn of events, you may be caught in a situation where you don’t have the same communication abilities as your classmates.
In most cases, a high-class business education together with an MBA degree from a top university correlate with better career opportunities and greater chances of creating new professional connections. This is why it is very important for future business students to understand that knowledge of digital tools may boost their search for these kinds of options. “Soon, students who have grown up with these technologies will come to be the ones providing answers to new industries as they leave university,” says Anthony Salcito, Vice President of Worldwide Education at Microsoft.
Below is a list of the most useful things you can do with the aid of social networks.
-Build a professional portfolio in some of the biggest social networks – this might be very useful when applying for a job because it can be used as your online CV;
-Find interesting people and read businessrelated articles online – you can leave comments or ask questions and there’s a high chance that they will get a faster answer;
-Join communities of interest to share career expectations or ask for advice;
-Apply for job offers through social networking sites – these kind of opportunities are highly likely to be included in specific groups and sub-forums;
-Create strong connections with people with the same professional interests and experience as you;
-Easily follow up people you have met during an unofficial meeting or at a specific event. In conclusion, it is not only in digital media that social media know-how is valued. These are skills that are increasingly valued in many areas of business, including public relations and marketing, technology and software development and management consultancy — to say nothing of entrepreneurs’ using social media channels to promote their start-ups, said a university representative in a Bloomberg BusinessWeek interview. We can add that understanding digital tools is critical for business students, increasing their chances of finding a new job, creating new personal and professional connections and helping students deal with new industries and markets. As we all live in a digital era, we should adapt to this new situation. Building a strong online presence in social networks is a good start.