Applying to a top MBA school is a competitive business, and admissions officers assess candidates stringently. During your application, you’ll have represented yourself in the best light possible, and many schools will look to social media for more information—and any potential red flags.
For everything professionally-orientated, the network to be on is LinkedIn. An MBA is all about taking the next step in your career and so, to get an idea of your qualities as a candidate, LinkedIn is the first place admissions officers go.
Here’s how to make sure your profile is an asset, and not a liability.
1. Revise your profile in light of your MBA application
This is not just for consistency: your MBA application presents the best you, and compiling it almost certainly required you to thoroughly assess your capabilities and professional achievements. Update your profile to show who you are to both the academic and professional worlds.
2. Present your best and most authentic self
Just like your MBA application in general, you want to show yourself in the best possible light, while giving the admissions officers a glimpse of your personality. First impressions last: a strong, eye-catching headline for your profile is a must and a professionally-taken picture will pay for itself.
Use your summary to provide a concise overview of the career path you’re on, but remember, a summary is not a CV. A terse list of dates and job titles is boring, while talking more about your passions, goals and life-changing experiences you’ve undergone will help the admissions officer get a sense of how you could use the skills and opportunities an MBA will give you.
Don’t forget to demonstrate your volunteer work, hobbies and interests to give a more well-rounded view of who you are and what you care about. While you’re at it, review all your social media to ensure it all aligns with the public image of yourself you’re presenting.
3. Contextualize your achievements
Remember to include academic achievements as well as professional ones, including any awards or honors. Be aware that admissions officers may not be overly familiar with your industry, company or country so explain why what you have done is important and impressive. Try to include figures wherever possible. However, keep it concise.
4. Work the network
Networking is the main function of LinkedIn, after all. Given the importance of social media and an online presence in today’s business environment, you’ve probably built an extensive network already, but the MBA process may be an opportunity to reach out in new directions.
That you should be following leaders in your industry goes without saying, but you should also follow leaders in other fields in which you are strongly interested. This is especially true if you plan to use your MBA to branch out in new directions, or if you have ambitions to make a difference in social issues such as empowerment or eco-friendly innovation.
Don’t be passive, either. Engage thoughtfully by commenting on articles and joining conversations if you have expertise to offer in a given area. Of course, never comment if you’re not 100% confident in what you’re saying, but on the other hand, don’t be afraid to ask (intelligent) questions.
Connections and recommendations from within your industry—and in other areas where you’ve made an impact, such as your community—will demonstrate your active involvement. Ultimately, these may give admissions officers a better impression of your character than a mere list of your achievements would. Ask for brief testimonials from the people providing your recommendations, to demonstrate your qualities as a colleague, leader, innovator or community member.
5. Follow your preferred school—and its alumni
Not only does following your preferred school demonstrate your interest, it will keep you up to date with any developments that might affect you (a particularly relevant point during COVID!)
Participating in your school’s community will also give you a head start on one of the major benefits of an MBA: networking. You may even get to know some of your future classmates and professors.
In addition, many alumni of top schools tend to remain in touch with the community, and a personal interaction online may open the door to further interaction. This is an especial advantage if your school has a particular focus on your industry or area of interest, as you may find a connection to industry forerunners.
6. Don’t get reckless in your quest for a stronger presence
A lot of what we’ve said so far puts the emphasis on ‘more’—more connections, more interactions, putting yourself in the spotlight more often. But if you post without due consideration, you may wind up with egg on your face.
Make sure all your posts are professional and appropriate. Make sure any commentary is informed and relevant, and avoid interpersonal conflict.
Approach every potential contact on an individual basis. No one appreciates indiscriminate spam mail, nor is it much of a basis for a productive relationship going forward. What is it about the person that makes you want to forge a connection with them? Whether it’s that their achievements have caught your eye or if you just share a common interest, let them know about it.
Your LinkedIn profile is going to come in handy as you build connections during and after your MBA, and when you reach out to employers. It is well worth the investment to put your best foot forward.
Are you considering business school?
In our BusinessBecause MBA Application Guide 2020-21, we list the application deadlines for the world’s top business schools and guide you through each stage of the MBA application process with insider tips and insights from leading MBA admissions directors.