Online networking can seem daunting at first. How do you create meaningful connections with those you can only meet through your screen?
Virtual networking has multiple benefits: you can instantly connect with a diverse mix of people from all over the world. As a result, the benefits of online networking for your personal and professional life should not be underestimated.
So, what virtual networking skills can you learn with an online MBA?
1. How to be proactive in virtual networking
Unlike in-person networking where you’ll meet people at events and through your work, growing your online network requires initiative on your behalf. You can’t expect to build relationships without proactively reaching out to new people.
Carla Priddon (pictured below) is a current Warwick Business School (WBS) Distance Learning MBA student and CEO of a children’s charity. She chose an online MBA due to the flexibility it allowed her to continue working while studying, as well as the virtual networking benefits it provides.
“I felt very strongly that an online MBA would allow me to meet more people from across the world and from different industries,” says Carla.
On the WBS Distance Learning MBA, there’s plenty of opportunities to connect with your cohort, including LinkedIn and WhatsApp groups, topic-focused groups such as book clubs, career-specific forums, and alumni directories.
Carla ensured she was proactive when searching for participants for interviews for her MBA dissertation. She shared a post on the WBS LinkedIn groups, leading to her having fruitful conversations with almost 50 different alumnae from various industries about their experiences progressing in business as women.
“You've got a lot of fascinating people on the MBA, and you can select where you can receive value and where you can add value as well,” notes Carla.
Not only did she receive valuable insight for her research, but given their shared experience as women in business, she’s stayed in touch with many of these connections.
2. How to strategize and prepare before networking
It’s a good idea to strategize and prepare for any formal networking occasion so you can arrive ready to direct your questions to the right people.
Moreover, since online networking events are often easier to attend than physical ones, you should refine your long-term objectives before signing up to everything.
On WBS’ Distance Learning MBA, you’ll have access to a global network at your fingertips, with skills workshops, thought-leadership talks, as well as recruiter presentations with the likes of Deloitte and Jaguar Land Rover at your disposal.
“You need a strategy to target what you can realistically get involved with on the MBA. Firstly, when you're studying, and secondly, after you're finished,” believes Kirra Moser (pictured right), a nurse and WBS Distance Learning MBA alumna. Kirra pursued an MBA to learn more about the operations and management side of hospitals.
Strategizing is particularly important when making formal connections online. WBS Distance MBA students can access career consultations and executive coaching during their degree. To get the most out of these virtual sessions, try to refine your career goals beforehand. This way, the career coach can provide tailored advice to help you advance in your career.
Meanwhile, preparing for virtual recruiter events might entail prioritizing the employers you’d like to speak to, and coming prepared with some examples of your (online) work or CV to show recruiters.
You should still be open to forging organic connections when online networking, just like you would in a face-to-face setting.
“It’s good to go into a conversation with no preconceived ideas about people and just let the conversation happen organically,” says Kirra, who adds that not preparing for these conversations leads to a more open and relaxed dialogue.
3. How to maintain ongoing online conversations
In an online environment, it’s easier to stay in touch with your virtual MBA network since you can instantly connect with people from all over the world through social media platforms.
Whenever Carla reads something that interests her, she'll instantly ping it over to peers in her network who she thinks will find it engaging. That's a great way to spark an insightful conversation.
But don’t let the virtual environment restrict you to online chats that miss out on those all-important face-to-face interactions. Even though these connections are virtual, you can still invite your colleagues for a Zoom ‘coffee’.
“We're really lucky that we're in a position where it's easy for us to talk to people on the other side of the world,” notes Kirra, who credits the WBS Distance Learning MBA for expanding her network to include those from vastly different industries to her.
Leveraging this online network when you’re at business school could boost your career prospects, potentially meeting contacts with valuable knowledge to impart, or simply forming life-long friends across all corners of the globe.
Warwick Business School
BSc Management with Marketing
I loved Warwick business school. The staff is supportive, my academic tutor was key in my development throughout the 3 years and you have to meet with her/him every term. Most professors are helpful and would happily offer support if needed. You also have office hours and can contact professors by email and through the forum. In general, WBS instills in you the willingness to learn and the resilience needed for you for whatever career you choose. Very international community which broadens your horizon and makes you more open minded and self aware. You will most certainly make friends and memories for life. I recommend that you get outside of your comfort zone and try new activities with your friends! WBS also has a great reputation and offers careers opportunities, and careers support throughout the degree. There is the opportunity to do a year abroad to further develop on a personal level. I wasn’t able to do this due to Covid but I would have loved to do it during normal circumstances! Would definitely recommend this. Although Warwick is not a city university, the campus vibe has a lot of advantages, especially at an undergraduate level. You are always around familiar faces, and in a student environment. Moreover, Birmingham is only 20 mins away from Leamington spa and London is only one hour away! Perfect for a day trip or a weekend getaway!
Life at Warwick Business School
Pursuing my master's degree at WBS has been a game-changer in my life. With high-quality education, interaction with students from across the world, amazing campus life and much more. I was able to learn about business, finance, project management and strategy all in one course: MSc in Management at WBS. Besides the top-notch education from the best professors, I also enjoyed being a part of fun societies and participating in fun activities such as scavenger hunts and so much more. The school also organises many company visits and interactions which help students get a head start at finding a job. As my course came to an end, I also have a good full-time job placement in my hands. Overall, my experience at WBS was a great one.
The Warwick Business School was like a dream come to life for me. The University ranking speaks for itself, from top-tier facilities to some of the best professors I had to honour to study with I fell in love with my course. Interactions with people from all over the world gave me a newfound confidence in myself. Career prospects after graduating are endless due to the contacts of the universities and the success rate for previous students, it does open a lot of doors for students in various career fields. The campus life is quite good as well with a lot of student groups and clubs, and extra circular activities to engage students at all times. Loved my experience.
A good business school
It is a very cutting-edge, career-oriented business school, all courses are very practical, and the college does a very good job of career service. From the hardware and facilities to the staff, the student experience is at the core of the school and student satisfaction is taken very seriously. I understand that many universities in the UK are relatively traditional and can occasionally be rigid in terms of rules and regulations, and although WBS has a relatively short history, this makes it more innovative and dynamic, which is essential for a business school. The downside is that because it is on the outskirts of Coventry, it is a long bus ride to the city centre, not to mention the difference in experience from a big city like London.
The people, campus, staff. It’s a very enjoyable environment and it’s particularly good for learning and playing sports. The people there are extremely friendly and welcoming and it’s very easy to make friends
What I Like About Warwick
I’ve personally liked my experience at Warwick so far because of the amazing people I’ve gotten to meet and how many opportunities we students are provided with to learn and grow. Within Warwick, I’m part of the Business School, a learning haven comprised of well-structured modules and extremely helpful people All in all, a great place to be :)
One thing that stood out for me was the campus life, you felt like part of a community. The social aspects of the student union and on-campus accommodation meant you can easily get together and enjoy with friends. Additionally, I felt the course provided a variety of subjects allowing me to enhance my knowledge, from Marketing to Law and Finance. Overall I would most definitely recommend this university to friends and family.
Excellence self catered
The campus is very welcoming and Modern. There are many opportunities at Warwick but it is up to the student how do they want to make the most out of it and the staff at the school will definitely helo as much as possible. The location and the ranking have been amazing.
Warwick business school
Warwick business school is one of the best universities around the globe with a solid base of economic and business studies. Moreover, students get a chance to study in a diverse and warm environment with professional stuff which tries to provide the best opportunities for career development. One of the memorable features of the university are great events which sometimes take a place in one of the landmarks of the London city, the Shard building.