MBA Career Advice: Networking for Pre-MBAs, Part 2

In this weekly series, our friends at MBA Career Coaches will be dispensing invaluable advice to help you actively manage your career. Topics include building your network, learning from mistakes and setbacks, perfecting your written communication, and mastering even the toughest interviews.

Once you have culled your most important contacts and scheduled meetings with them, you will want to accomplish a few important things in your next conversation.

Say Thank You

Thank them for whatever they have done for you. Dig deep, and be honest and specific. A statement like “Thanks for all your help this year” is vague. By contrast, a declaration such as “Of all the things you’ve done for me, you might be surprised to learn that the constructive feedback you gave me on my presentation style has had the greatest impact” is vivid and real. Specific and honest acknowledgement is a great gift.

Tell Them Your Plans

Let them know what you have planned for your future. Tell them what you are excited or nervous about as you look forward to B-school. Let them know what you plan to do for your internship. Even if you are considering a few different options, talk it through with them. They will appreciate you sharing your plans with them in a frank and open way.

Give the Connection a Future

The easiest way to give the connection a future is to ask the contact for something. When you give someone the chance to contribute to you, the relationship deepens. You should not try to force this, but consider some of these examples:

  • “Do you know anyone who is doing management consulting right now that you think I should speak with to learn more about the job before my internship?”
  • “I’d love it if you’d continue to forward me any great articles you come across, and I will do the same.”
  • “Would it be okay if I ping you when I am preparing for internship interviews to ask a few questions or perhaps have you serve as a reference?”
  • “If I meet anyone at B-school interested in working for our firm, would it be okay for me to introduce you?”

Again, do not force the conversation. Do what comes naturally when you are speaking with someone you know and like. And you do not have to cover all the points we recommend; trust yourself.

One final tip: As we have discussed in several other posts, the more interconnected your network is, the more useful it will be for you. Give your colleagues a chance to connect you with their colleagues. Ask, “Is there anyone else you think I should meet or talk to before I go to business school?” Pose this question in the context of your future career plans, even if your plans are still undefined and you want to do more research. In our next post, we will talk about how to make use of these second-degree connections before you begin your MBA studies.

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