Elementary Guide to Networking for Business Students

B-School Networking

B-School Networking

Networking, an intangible part of the MBA curriculum, is one of the most valued key take away from the B-School campus. Not surprisingly, most of the B-School alumni rate networking as the most useful “head fake” (head fake= indirect learning. Head Fake comes from the “Last Lecture Series of Randy Pausch”) in the MBA learning curve. This article covers is meant as an elementary write-up on networking skills especially for the B-School whiz kids covering benefits of networking, essentials and how of networking.

Why Networking? Benefits associated with networking vary from individual level to organizational level. Impact of individual benefits of networking like job referrals, tertiary referrals (a node in your network introduces you to a node in his network), information gathering about organization, business, profession, college etc are limited to an individual however organizational level benefits like business development, new recruit background checks, recruitments via social media etc have much wider impact especially in the times of recession.

B-School Networking: Today for MBA aspirants, networking with MBA students and B-School alumni goes beyond tips on how to prepare for admission to evaluation of college based on first hand information about the college from the concerned students which is generally not available on the information platter (website, brochure etc) provided by the college. No wonder B-Schools have recognized the modern mode of information gathering and many have appointed or volunteered admission counsellors and teams for MBA forums. For the first year students, the networking can form an influencing medium for deciding upon the internship organizations, the selection of specialization and for some in fact it forms a means to get an internship. In times of recession, especially for Investment Banking and Consulting aspirants networking becomes a very powerful tool for entry into the industry.

No wonder why organizations including B-Schools are emphasizing on building and maintaining relationships with their alumni network. Most of the B-Schools sent out SOS messages to their alumni network in assisting the institution in securing 100% placements and have made more than usual efforts in placing the interns in contact with the alumni in the organizations the first year students intern at.

Essentials of Networking: Even though the user base of social networking sites like LinkedIn, Orkut, Facebook etc have immensely increased in India over the period of time, but not all users of the social networking sites are able to leverage their networks. This can be attributed to some of the reasons like low awareness about networking benefits, low interpersonal cum communication skills and low activeness on online social forums. The last characteristic is not only applicable to less internet savvy individuals but also to high internet savvy students of B-Schools.

How do I Network? A few tips on how to build your network are:

  1. Recognize a few friends of common interest even before you land up in your college. Make use of MBA forums for this. The exercise to this would indirectly help you know the common grounds you share with your prospective batch.
  2. Try to be a member of various cells and special interest groups in your college especially the placement cell and alumni cells. These two cells present its members with large exposure to professionally managing relationships, improves communication cum interpersonal skills and most importantly helps you manage cold calls well which you shall be surely doing while building your network. Association with special interest groups like economics cell, finance cell, consulting cell etc will put you abreast to what your counterparts in the same arena are up to.
  3. Be active on online social forums on networking sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Orkut etc. Note that just being a member of such forums will not serve the purpose; you need to be an active member for developing a rapport among the members of the forum.
  4. Online Special interest group forums outside the campus like ConsultingNetwork, ZeneSys, Learn2consult etc help not only build the basic fundamentals required for entry into the industry but also help to develop networks within the group.
  5. Always prefer telephonic conversations to emails. Emails are sometimes put to the backburner by the respondents.
  6. As far as possible, with individuals with whom you have already established your connection, start conversation on topics away from their professional work life. Especially, investment bankers and consultants would not like to talk on economics, recessions etc as these are the daily chores for them. A small conversation on topic of their interest like movies, sports might help breaking the ice. In order to learn about interests and background of the individual do some homework. LinkedIn, Orkut, Facebook, individual’s blogs etc can be of good help in this regard. However, with individuals whom you are talking for the first time, directly addressing the purpose might be a better tactic.
  7. Make a point that you freshen up your memory with the previous dialogue with the individual before you start your next conversation. It helps you develop grounds for talks.
  8. Tertiary Referrals are preferred over direct contacts. It helps you convert a cold call into a warm call. For Example: If you are referred by Mr. X to Mr. Y and you make the first call to Mr. Y refer to the conversation where Mr. X referred you to Mr. Y, this helps to break the initial thaw.
  9. For individuals networking for job referrals using an excel sheet to track your developments is heavily recommended else your work may go haphazard and this may not reflect well on your prospective employer and colleague. Also, keep an eye on Job Boards on networking sites like LinkedIn which has now being slowly accepted as a preferred means of recruitment to Middle levels and senior levels.
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Assessing B-School Reality

With B-School admission process round the corner, prospective students are busy filling forms of the admit exams and colleges. The decision of choosing a prospective B-School amidst large number of B-Schools is one of the most difficult phase in the admission process for a prospective student. Traditionally, B-School Surveys, Word of Mouth about college, Website and Placement Figures were some of the cues which helped students choose a school. These means miss one of the 7 P’s of Service Marketing i.e. “Physical Evidence” hence do not reflect true internal value of the school. 

Majority of the B-schools in India notoriously place them behind veils. Many of the B-School students complaint about heavy fake advertising by some B-Schools which does not indicate the true value of the B-School and its student community. Then, how can a prospective student see through these artificial clouds to understand the reality of the B-Schools?

Information Technology comes to our rescue. With the proliferation of information technology, the means and measures of selecting a B-School has been changing tremendously. Advent of MBA forums like PagalGuy.Com, MbaClubIndia.com, TotalGadha.com etc have made a difference in how and what information prospective MBA student looks for. These forums have an influx of B-School Students, B-Schools Alumni, B-School Counsellors and Prospective students who share their views and opinions. A visit to the following the following thread Which B-Schools to Apply? can give an insight into how B-School Students and Prospective Students collaborate to gain better insights into the B-Schools. Observing this trend many of the B-Schools have initiated admission teams catering admission related information to such forums and resolving admission related queries of the forum users.

One of the means of information for the prospective students which I recently discovered  is BLOGS. Blogs of B-School students, alumni and professors can give a very true indication of the B-School. Blog boom in B-School and Learning via Blogs in B-School present a change which IT has brought in the B-School community. Students, Alumni and Professors voice their opinions and views via blogs and indirectly give out the reality behind the veil. These blogs can be a source of information directly from the horses’ nose and hence can be used by prospective students seeking admissions.

One may question “These IT means mentioned above too can be faked to present an unreal reality about the school. So how does one completely rely on these?”.  The answer is “A prospective Manager needs to evaluate the information about the schools available via various means and then take an informed decision. Furthermore, a smart manager is supposed to take good decisions amidst uncertanity. Isn’t it?” Selecting an apt B-School is also a test for prospective B-School managers !!!!!

 

 

 

DOES MAN LEARN AND DOES EDUCATION RUIN?

Definition of Education – Education encompasses teaching and learning specific skills, and also something less tangible but more profound: the imparting of knowledge, positive judgment and well-developed wisdom. But does man learn?

Today’s school education obfuscates a child’s observation, creative and lateral thinking deftness. Intense level of competition in schools and high aspiration of parents (as very vividly elucidated in the flick “Tare Zameen Par”) represses the future innovative leaders. Albert Einstein, a high school dropout, became one of the most profound thinkers of any century. Plato and Socartes carved many renowned theories without any formal education. An S P JAIN (a renowned B-School in India) pass out once commented that “MBA prevents one from exposing himself to entrepreneurship. The risk understanding instilled in a MBA graduate actually averts one from venturing into new innovative and out-of-box ideas and solutions.”

If you were in Mumbai and were clients of Dabawala’s service you would have understood the contrast between the educated efforts we in MNC’s put in with the best possible machines (laptops etc) and processes to get the SIX SIGMA concept implemented and the ease with which DABAWALAS (mostly illiterate using only color codes) manage to get less than 3 errors in 1 million attempts. Where is education leading us to?

World War 1 caused huge number of lives to be lost still humankind in times of World War 2(which was more educated than the times of World War 1) could not prevent itself from entering another massacre of WAR. The war story may not end here the humankind might end up fighting for water, food, land and opportunity in times to come.  

Retrospection on such incidences and facts boggles my mind with a question – “DOES MAN LEARN? And DOES EDUCATION RUIN?”