The Keys to Networking from a Student’s Perspective

From the day I decided to start my MBA, I have heard this term millions of times – networking!Networking is vital, it is the holy grail which will get you a job.

Brijesh Jain, '15 MBA Interning through the Citi-Financial Management Associate Program in NYC

Brijesh Jain, ’15 MBA
Interning in the Citi-Financial Management Associate Program in NYC this summer

You need to network to get an interview.  Once you get the interview, you need to network with your interviewer and guess what, even after landing the internship/ job, you need to network with the people within the organization.  As an MBA student you are encouraged to network with your peers, the second year students, the first year students, the faculty, the alumni, the guys at the coffee shop, the janitors, the grocery store owners, the bus drivers, the cab drivers, pretty much anyone.  But what is networking?  How does one network?  What does one do to get in a network, and most importantly why network?

I want to share my experiences of networking over the past year.  These are by no means the only way to do things, but hey, they helped me to land an internship.

Why network

In order to get a job, it is important for people to know YOU.  People want to know your name, your background, why are you applying for the job, what do you intend to get out of it, and how will you contribute to the company.   The hiring guys want to know whether you want to make a career for yourself in the organization, will you leave the job in 2 years, or are you applying for the job only because you have no other options available.

Think about it-it seems fair that the company/ interviewer know you and your rationale for applying.  Think of it as going to a restaurant.  You need to tell the waitress what you want to eat before she can get you the food.  Similarly, before the organization hires you, they want to know more about you.  Another example can be that of a hair-dresser – his goals are aligned to yours.  You want to get a good hair-cut and he knows that you’ll come back to him only if he does a good job.  But before he starts his work, he’s got to know something about you and your personality to suggest a style which will suit you.

How to network

There are many ways to network.  You can use emails, LinkedIn, cold calls, get introduced by someone, Twitter, Facebook, etc.  I am not going to get into those aspects.  What I do want to say is that networking should be purposeful.  You cannot be writing or calling someone ‘just to talk’ or ‘just so that the person knows who you are.’

So what is the purpose of networking?  To get a job, right?!  Well of course but that should never drive your networking efforts.  Every person who you interact with knows that you are doing so to get a favor from him or her.  But this should never be made explicit.  Actually, it should also not be stated indirectly.  That’s a Big NO NO.  So then, what’s the purpose?  You network to forge friendships.  You network to know about the other person and let other person know about you.  I know for some people (me included) talking about myself is very difficult.  I received this advice from someone about networking which is useful –think of a networking call or a networking meeting as going on 1st date.  You do not want to reveal everything about yourself but keep conversations interesting so that you get the 2nd date.

The goal of networking is to build friendships so that when there is indeed a job opening, your contact recommends you for the job and pushes your application to the front of the line.  In short, networking is the exercise of building a friendship so that the other person not only voluntarily decides to help, but is also is glad that he or she is helping you.

So for everyone who is in an MBA program or contemplating starting one – happy networking : )

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