Arnab Pandey graduated with an MBA from the University of Tampa’s John H. Sykes College of Business in 2016. He now works as a financial analyst for Raymond James Financial.
As the world becomes more competitive each day, it has become imperative to understand one’s strengths and weaknesses at an early stage. Be it in business, technology, hospitality, healthcare, you name it—interacting with the industry players on a regular basis has become a necessity.
I started networking when I started my MBA here in the US. Initially, when I was in India- doing my bachelors in technology, I never knew about this concept. We had campus placements, where companies used to come and recruit students directly.
But, as I stepped into the US market, the concept of networking felt like a really difficult and hard-to-achieve skill set. Yes, it is a skill set—which cannot be taught, but has to be acquired—through trial and error.
Here’s six networking tips for MBA students:
1. Network with a plan
Networking is a very broad concept, and it often leads to being delusional. You can talk to 100 people and not get anything out of it, or you can talk to five people and land a great job or a mentor.
You have to think about which industry you want to work in and target those professionals and mentors who are directly involved in those functional areas.
2. Do your research
Please do your homework before you leave your place for the meeting. Do a brief research on the industry, the company where the person works, and what are the points you want to touch on. Do not go with a blank face—it’s insulting to the other person, and is definitely a waste of his/her time.
3. Don’t assume you’ll get the job
One very flawed thought process that persists in the minds of early networkers is that, if you network with Person ‘A’, then Person ‘A’ will hire you. You should not network with the thought process that you will get hired.
It might be possible, and it’s great if that happens, but the main fundamental of networking is to know and learn from each other. Each of the networkers should help the other to connect with the right contact. In this case, Person ‘A’ if not hiring, connecting you with person ‘B’ who is hiring. Networking is about connecting the dots, or connecting the right consumer with the right resource.
4. Network to know your net-worth
Sometimes, talking with a highly knowledgeable and experienced professional, can actually tell you your worth. While talking to the person, make mental notes of the things he/she says. What are the things you already know? What are the things you don’t?
Don’t be afraid to ask for explanations for the things you don’t know, that is a great habit to exercise. Ask questions. Sometimes talking can also shape your perspective towards something, or clear some blurry images in your mind.
5. Jot things down
Once you go back home after your networking session, write down the points you discussed, in detail. The things you liked, disliked, the opportunities that can be tapped into, and the follow-up questions. Try to create a written memo of what was discussed during the session.
It is very important to follow-up with the person you networked with, within 24 hours. If you have any questions, or if he/she talked about connecting you with someone else, then this email can be a gentle reminder as well.
Do not forget to thank them for their time. Don’t be scared to email them sometimes just to stay in touch, or else you will be soon forgotten. But don’t overdo it!