Brown bag lunches, conferences, speaker sessions, MBA clubs, alumni events... there's no escaping opportunities to network when you're at business school. It's often the main point of being there in the first place! So how do you get it right?
We've picked the brains of Konstantin Danilov, a finance whiz who is currently an HEC Paris MBA student who became so passionate about the topic that he has writen a book on networking strategy.
Konstantin is no slouch in the academic department either, proving that networking is not just a fluffy activity for fluffy people. He holds a the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) qualifications. He got his B.A. in Economics from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and joined HEC Paris on their full-time MBA in 2012.
Prior to HEC Paris, Konstantin was Senior Analyst at a global investment fund responsible for over $90 billion in client assets. He has also been a member of the Editorial Board for AllAboutAlpha.com, a leading investment website.
A life long networker, he was previously Co-founder and Vice President of the Boston Chapter of the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst Association.
At HEC Paris, he is the President of the MBA Consulting Club. His book, Networking: A Strategy Guide, is a "practical guide for building and developing a strong professional network".
Perfect Your Story
Konstantin believes that stories have a very important place in our society. "The human brain has evolved in such a way that logical narratives help us quickly and efficiently understand the world around us. It is our brain’s way of organizing the torrent of information that we experience every day. If what you are conveying amounts to a few loosely related experiences and somewhat vague goals, you need to give your story some serious thought.
"Constructing a good narrative will require you to do some serious thinking about your long-term goals and how your past experiences – personal or professional – will bridge your unique background with your goals. Your story should be brief yet informative enough to neatly show how everything ties together."
Before you head out, ask yourself if you can effectively convey your unique experience and goals with a concise and logical narrative.
Be Positive and Confident
Konstantin tells us that we are naturally more inclined towards confident and optimistic people. "We want to associate with confident people because it makes us feel more confident about our own goals. Even if you were rejected after the last ten job interviews, your story must always resonate with confidence."
Before you make your next networking move, make sure you are feeling positive about yourself. Nobody likes a downer.
Quality Trumps Quantity
Networking events might inspire images of speed-dating. However, Konstantin thinks differently: "Some networking gurus will tell you that to maximize your networking effectiveness, you should spend exactly four minutes speaking with each person you meet, and then promptly excuse yourself and move on to the next person. That may be fine for some, but I personally would rather meet a handful of people and really make a connection than meet 30 people and barely remember anyone’s name.
"Obviously, if someone is boring or otherwise uninteresting, move on by saying 'I’m going to grab another drink' or, 'It was nice meeting you'.
Don’t worry about spending the entire night talking with the same group. Real meaningful connections take time, so invest your time if necessary.
Building A Good Network Takes Time and Effort
For Konstantin, the key is to get the snowball effect working in your favor and this can be achieved by setting out your goals in time: "Don’t wait until you need to get something done like getting a new job or launching a business to start networking. There are two major inputs that go into building a powerful network – time and effort. No matter how hard you try, you can’t build a relationship overnight."
Establish your longer term goals now, and you can start building relationships with people who can help you accomplish those goals today!
For more tips from Konstantin, view his articles here. Read more stories about students, alumni and programmes at HEC Paris