Graduate Management News

August 2016

The Newsletter of the Graduate Management Admission Council

Make it Happen: Five Simple Tips for the Networking Challenged

Networking is the art of building relationships, but who among us are naturals at it?

Professional Development Tips

You’re in a large conference room packed with strangers. Your goal: circulate and make a lasting impression with as many as you can in just a few hours. How many of us are comfortable with that prospect? For those who are not natural networkers, consider these five tips before your next big event.

  1. Prepare to be uncomfortable: This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your research and arrive at your event prepared. It means accept the fact that meeting new people is not a stress-free scenario. Prepare to leave your comfort zone and open yourself up to sharing your story and to learning about others. Remember that everyone is in the same boat.

  2.  Set achievable goals and be selective: All events are different, and each presents its own set of benefits and challenges. Be selective when considering events to attend and weigh the costs and benefits carefully. After you’ve chosen your events, be realistic with your goals. Consider that less is more, and that making two to three meaningful and lasting connections may be more valuable in the long run than meeting 10-15 people you may never hear from again.

  3. Plan your first impression: You may initially think of this as your “elevator pitch,” but really it’s much more. Your first impression – and not just the information or talking point you put forth – is what people take away. Show up to events prepared to present the best version of you; be positive with your verbal language and your body language. Pay attention, listen carefully, and be mindful of how you make people feel. This will go a long way toward a meaningful connection.

  4. Follow-up: If you’re not following up, you’re not networking. Write personalized follow-up emails within two days or you may risk having your remarks and great impression lost forever.

  5. Recover, recharge, and take stock: Take time to recover and recap what you’ve accomplished. After everything is over, and you’re flying home or at home already, recharge. Interacting with a lot of people can be draining. To avoid networking burnout, engage in an activity that helps you unwind.