When choosing to pursue an MBA from your desired business school, perhaps one of the most vital aspects that you have thoroughly considered is the numerous networking opportunities that you will have access to. The MBA degree is in its own category when it comes to networking. Not only do business schools strongly encourage it, but they also attempt to facilitate it after graduation. Networking is fun, enriching, career-enhancing and thought-provoking. But most of you already know this. To those of you that prefer to keep to yourselves: gear up your engines, as we are about to give you five reasons why networking matters.
1. Networking can help you start your own business
MBA students may be interested in different things, but you are bound to meet several people who are interested in beginning their own business after completing their MBA. If you are looking for a partner, a person with better access to angel investors, or someone who knows how to find hedge funds, and other similar sources, networking may be your best bet.
Additionally, as the saying goes, “two heads are better than one”, and you may find people with exceptional creative abilities, established professional skills, or a highly feasible business idea that can help you begin your own business. Or, you could become part of theirs. Some of the most worthwhile business friendships begin in school so do not rule this opportunity out when networking with other students in your class.
2. Networking can help you climb the career ladder
While not all students think of starting their own business, some choose to work for others and make a robust career. You can easily talk to people and gauge different career opportunities in order to climb up the career ladder, and there is no better place to do it other than your MBA classroom. You may not meet a person working for the same company as you across the border, but you are definitely bound to meet people who are working in the same industry or in an industry that you are interested in. They can tell you about companies you didn’t even know existed, opportunities at companies you did know existed, but could never learn about from open channels, or even some tips on landing a job in the industry, you thought you knew, but ultimately didn’t.
And if that is too confusing to you, try grasping public-private funding of space exploration! Come to think of it, networking could probably help with that, too. After all, Elon Musk met all kinds of people at University of Pennsylvania and Stanford, which inspired him to found SpaceX later in his life.
3. Networking is a long-term investment
While you may not be searching for like-mindedness or perhaps you are, compatibility and shared interests are essential for networking. Hence, networking will help you meet like-minded people or people who are compatible with you in terms of future ideas, life goals, aspirations, and other plans. Think about this: being part of a network of people today means you could be a member of a joint hedge fund tomorrow. And don’t worry – it doesn’t mean you have to be from a wealthy family. More often than not, your intellect and the trust that your peers have in you will be enough. And that doesn’t even include the work opportunities, contacts and thought-sharing that goes on in a network like this over the years.
Meeting compatible people will help you expand your knowledge, discuss vital aspects of the career path, share experiences and stories in a way that you can’t really do with a friend from childhood or your teen years. As a pupil in school or even a student in college, you used to share a common study place, but in addition to the academic environment, now you also share the career ambition and business aspirations of mature professionals, which make networking during your MBA course truly mutually-beneficial and practically impactful.
4. Networking is encouraged by Business schools
Business schools have their own alumni networks which ensure that peers do not lose contact with one another. Business schools encourage networking throughout the entire academic period, as well as in the years after graduation. The premise is that networking can lead to some very serious business interactions, which the school can claim (and rightfully so) to have been the facilitator of. In addition to that, schools often organise events, which are aimed at maintaining these networks. Guest lectures and appearances, references, participation in charity events and donation campaigns are just a few of the things that an MBA alumnus can expect to take part in as a result of embracing school-facilitated networking.
And that’s not even including the fact that 10 years from your graduation day, you might be personally acquainted with opinion leaders of industries such as finance, tech and consumer electronics.
5. Networking leads to lifelong friendships
Keeping to yourself and not mustering up the courage to utter that “hello” can lead to dire consequences such as missing out on a business opportunity or a friendship of a lifetime. If you feel you are missing on opportunities, knowledge, or inspiration, some people are just very good supporters and listeners and can always be a helping hand in life. Many of the best friendships are formed in university and you can meet highly diverse and interesting people while networking who may change your perspective about things like work, ambition and even attitude to life. Motivation often comes not from within, but from the world that surrounds you.
Give that “hello” a shot and see for yourself!
The point is – networking can catapult your career in ways you didn’t imagine before going to business school, so don’t only embrace it, pursue it!
Much like "networking", there are many terms in the MBA dictionary that might feel awkwardly different and out-of-context, or have entirely different connotations. But fear not! We got you covered! Read: The Quick Guide to MBA Glossary, Part I