MBA students will know that in order to secure a senior-level job, they ought to tap into these networks. Traditionally, however, little attention was paid to the practice at business schools.
“If I thought about networks at all, I thought about bundles of cables under the sea,” said Julia, explaining how the office has changed since began her career at a London publishing house in the 80's.
The proliferation of social media – notably Twitter and LinkedIn – has meant that new ways of connecting with peers and employers are available to today’s graduates. In 2014, an MBA is more likely to network in the virtual world, rather than at a cocktail party.
“The age of the desk-based office silo is transforming,” said Julia. “And with it our ways of working – and of networking – need to adapt and to modernise,” she said.
But they should not discount the face-to-face method, according to Jonathan Masland, director of counselling and recruiting at the Tuck School of Business. “Nothing can replace in-person networking. It creates a fundamental personal relationship,” he said.
Tuck is one of a growing number of schools that formally teach networking on its MBA programs. The US-based school, known for its smaller and more intimate class sizes, demonstrates to students the step-by-step tactics of building professional ties with alumni, recruiters, classmates and faculty.
“This includes in-person meetings, email outreach and informational phone calls,” Jonathan said.
Tuck MBAs are also taught the art of networking through company briefings, alumni visits and career treks – the most recent of which saw 38 students fly to Silicon Valley.
While only a handful of schools may in future add “networking” to their core curriculums, Julia believes that it can and should be taught. She is the author of a white paper – Fully Connected: a look ahead to working and networking in 2020 – published by EY, the consultancy, that highlights the importance of networking in the business world.
“Everything we do is defined by networks and indeed by networking,” she argued in the report. But she added that our ways of networking need to adapt and to modernise.
Social media has arguably redefined the recruiting process, and the HR function. Many of the world’s leading employers send their talent scouts into the virtual world to find their next hires.
As LinkedIn in particular has exploded, so too has the way employers find new workers. A study by the Society for Human Resource Management found that 77% of employers were using social networks to recruit through 2013, up from 56% in 2011.
Recruiters especially like LinkedIn to fill mid-level and senior-level positions – jobs that MBAs are fighting for. About 20,000 clients used LinkedIn’s talent solutions products last year – $205 million of the $364 million in revenue that LinkedIn reported in the second quarter of 2013 came from this department.
Francine Bennett is the CEO and co-founder of Mastodon C, a big data-specialist technology firm. She argues that online methods make for more effective recruitment.
“There is a lot of data available online about every individual, as well as in their CVs,” she said. “Collecting that data and then building models which compare CVs and online data to their eventual success in being hired or not, and how their new bosses evaluate them, could be really powerful.”
According to Karl Leung, a senior consultant at CEIBS’ Career Development Centre, social media allows MBAs to connect with multiple people – quickly. He teaches networking workshops at the Shanghai-based business school.
But he added that hiring decisions by HR professionals are largely based on assessments resulting from phone and face-to-face interviews.
“Comparing social media networking to networking in-person is like comparing apples to oranges,” Karl said.
But people still prefer to reach out to recruiters and network from behind a screen, according to Julia, who teaches networking on executive programs at Cass.
“People find it difficult to get into the habit of initiating face-to-face encounters,” she said.
Alongside her paper, EY commissioned market research company Populus to interview a nationally representative sample of nearly 4,200 British adults. The responses of 750 of them who held more senior jobs provide an insight into how business professionals feel about networking.
“At EY we believe this ‘soft’ skill is a ‘core skill’,” Liz Bingham, managing partner for talent with EY, said in the report.
“As a connected and integrated organisation, we see the power that comes from strong global networks.”
People are more likely to network at the early stages of their careers: Nearly 70% of executive-level respondents networked in person, compared to 53% of directors. Yet the respondents made equal use of social media for networking with roughly a third of those at director, manager and executive level using online social networks.
Some MBAs think that networking is too basic, according to Karl. He argues that it is a must for more schools to run networking workshops. But he also points out the importance of cross-cultural networking, which he argues will allow students to find more fulfilling job opportunities.
“It takes a lot of time, experience, and interaction with various people from different nationalities, backgrounds [and] fields of interest before one becomes a master in the art,” Karl said.
Julia said that conferences and cocktail parties are the most common places to network. She has developed techniques to teach her corporate students.
“The number one piece of advice is to concentrate on connecting with someone by looking into their face, and to worry less about exchanging business cards than exchanging meaningful conversation,” she said.
Jonathan recommends starting with common undergraduates, while looking for ways to reconnect after initial conversations.
“Students should become active in the extracurricular life of their business school and stay well-read and informed on their industries – you never know what could spark a network connection,” he added.
However, Karl warns that MBAs must have a clear end-career-goal to make networking truly effective.
“Do I want to find a job in banking? Do I want to start a business? Do I want to connect with more people so that I have more resources to grow my budding business? These are some basic questions one has to answer before setting out to network,” he said.
The gender debate has resulted in the so-called “Stiletto Network” which sees women place networking front and centre in their drive for greater equality in the workforce. Many women’s MBA clubs have been established to help foster these networks.
“A women-only network would help give women as a whole a platform and a louder voice to help balance the traditionally male dominated business environment,” said Karl.
But EY’s survey shows that only 24% of female respondents felt there was a need for women-only networks.
Liz, EY managing partner, warned: “We aren’t there yet, and I believe there’s still a compelling need for networking opportunities for women that still needs to be addressed.”
Bayes Business School
Best Journalism school in Europe
When I first stepped onto the campus of City, University of London, I knew I was in for a ride - and not just on the Tube! With its vibrant energy and an impressive repertoire of programs, City U became my home away from home. The Journalism program was kind of a big deal. Rumour was that we were the best in Europe! The lecturers were not just experts in their field; they’re practically journalistic royalty. They were invested, passionate, and had a knack for turning the most flat press release into a riveting news story. With their guidance, I’ve learned to navigate the chaotic world of media like a pro. The campus was a melting pot of every culture, being that we had such a diverse international crowd. Being in the heart of London, I had the world at my fingertips - there was always a new corner to explore, a hidden gem of a cafe to discover, or a street performer! City, University of London wasn't just a university; it was a chapter in my life story that I’ll never forget.
The teacher-learner ration is manageable, giving each learner a chance to gain personal attention. It is also easier following up on the progress of a student, as the numbers per class is not large. the conducive environment for learning includes clean classes, standard desks, world class instructional facilities and the opportunity to engage lecturers even after their sessions. The team spirit at City is above board, with learners getting chance to learn both from instructors and colleagues. This is the university of choice; the place to be.
I liked that each class had a manageable number of learners, making the professor-learner ratio favor knowledge acquisition. I also liked that study schedules were manageable, and not overwhelming. The focus on talents and gifts even within the learning environment makes it possible for learners to achieve the best of their potential, and this has worked to the advantage of those that have schooled at City, University of London
The diversity at City University facilitates interactions and is a direction toward the unity of the world. The classes are well built to match the number and needs of all students regardless of the elements of diversity that set people apart. The use of technology in delivery makes learning even more interesting and achievable. At City University there is no distinction pegged on the issues that make people unique.
The team of lecturers at the Uiversity are well experienced. Their level of insight and the methodologies of delivery works for the interes of the leaeners. My learning experience was largely boosted by the level of knowledge of the professors at the institution, and their passion to transfer the same to learners. I appreciate every class I attended because of the level of insight I was able to gather
The best university I’ve been to
The campus and the people I've met have made it a wonderful experience. I was reared in a small town with a graduating class of only 88 individuals, so moving to City University was a huge adjustment for me. My dorm has more residents than my whole high school combined! I enjoy the atmosphere here, and everyone is so friendly. Outstanding academic options and a stunning campus. Really great from beginning to end. The educators genuinely love what they do, and the students are ready to learn. On or around college, there is always something to do with friends, and the social scene is particularly warm.
Bayes Business School
As a student at City university attending Bayes Business School I would totally recommend choosing this university as the experience is exceptional with great social networking opportunities . Professors are significantly helpful, delivering with excellence and professionalism. Everyone is happy to help and make you feel welcomed in such an esteem university as City, offering exceptional development and guidance through out the course.
Economics and Politics
Incredibly amazing university, the way they polish students and help them boost their morale and think intellectually is worthwhile. Many universities have international partnerships to allow exchanges between their students. The most obvious subjects for these opportunities would be those that involve languages, and the study of people and places.