In this weekly series, “MBA Career Advice,” 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, there are a few important things you will want to accomplish in your final conversation.
Say Thank You
Thank them for whatever they have done for you; Dig deep and be honest and specific. “Thanks for all your help this year,” is vague. “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 on me,” is vivid and real. Specific and honest acknowledgement is a great gift to the receiver.
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 Bschool. 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 them for something. When you give someone the chance to contribute to you, it deepens the relationship. It’s important not to force this, but try for example:
- “Do you know anyone who is doing Management Consulting right now that you think I should speak with to learn more about it 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 alright if I ping you when I am preparing for internship interviews to ask you a few questions or perhaps have you serve as a reference?”
- “If I meet anyone at BSchool interested in working for our firm, would it be alright for me to introduce you?”
As with all things, don’t force the conversation. Do what comes naturally to you when you are speaking with someone you know and like. It is fine not 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?” Ask 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 your MBA.