Virtual Networking: How Online MBA Students Build Real Networks that Pay Off

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Prospective MBA students should make sure to remember that “your network is your net worth.” According to several studies, networking is key toward helping graduates find employment, and it can also help mid-career professionals secure higher salaries and promotions. The Graduate Management Admission Council determined that 96 percent of employers agree employing business school graduates generates value for their companies.

To learn more, check out the infographic below created by Washington State University’s online Master of Business Administration degree program.

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The Importance of Networking for Online MBA Students

One of the most important ways that MBA students can foster career growth is by expanding their networks via traditional networking.

An estimated 85 percent of critical jobs are filled through networking, and 86 percent of recent graduates think of networking as a primary method for finding employment.

According to survey results, it was determined that some job searching methods were more successful than others. Traditional networking is by far the most effective way to find a job, with 46 percent of all respondents finding work in this manner. However, 25 percent found employment through internet job boards and 14 percent received a job offer through an agency or recruiter.

Three Ways an Online MBA Program Encourages Networking

As networking can be incredibly useful for students, online MBA programs often provide a plethora of networking opportunities. And by cultivating an alumni network and face-to-face collaboration with their peers, graduates can foster connections with other working professionals.

Networking Success Stories

Google’s co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page first became acquainted on a graduate school campus after Brin gave Page a campus tour. They worked together on a project named BackRub several years later, which eventually became known under its famous moniker, Google. And in 2017, Google was named the world’s most valuable brand, taking the title over other well-known brands, including Apple.

Rent the Runway began after cofounders Jenny Fleiss and Jenn Hyman met as business school students in 2007. Their brand allows women who are not able to afford high-end designer clothing and accessories under other circumstances to rent designer items. By 2014, they cultivated a collection of high-end couture worth more than $800 million.

Warby Parker is the brainchild of Neil Blumenthal, Dave Gilboa, Andrew Hunt and Jeffrey Raider, who all met while attending graduate school in Pennsylvania. After they “commiserated over the high cost of glasses,” these four co-founders built a $1.2 billion dollar company using a combination of their individual talents.

Common Networking Opportunities in Online MBA Programs

Current students should be given opportunities to network with alumni from their educational institution. Schools can help students connect with engaged alumni through social events or via an online portal.

Students should be able to introduce themselves to other students, graduates and faculty on online discussion forums, using either text or video. Doing this encourages interaction between students and faculty throughout the course of their program.

Students can also use online social networking platforms like LinkedIn to connect and communicate with professors and classmates, thus helping them build a solid network before graduation.

Not All Online MBA Programs Are Made Equal

To figure out whether these three types of networking activities are readily available, remember to ask recruiters the following questions before deciding which MBA program to enroll in.

Asking “What types of students does the program attract?” helps students choose an MBA program with alumni working in similar roles or industries, which can be incredibly useful for cultivating an effective network.

“Does the institution connect students with mentors?” answers whether institutions introduce students to alumni or employees working in industries they are interested in.

Asking “How often do MBA students in the program interact with each other?” can help determine whether students are able to communicate with each other through in-person residency requirements, online discussions and video conferences.

“Does the program advise students on how to network?” answers whether tips and advice are offered to help students build and foster professional connections.

Tips for Online MBA Students to Go Above and Beyond with Networking

Taking advantage of the following networking tips can help MBA students stand out above the crowd.

Cultivate a promotion mindset that focuses on “the growth, advancement and accomplishments networking can bring.” Doing this can help MBA students feel more authentic and remove mental blocks that may prevent them from effectively networking.

Cast a wide social net by taking advantage of all available networking possibilities. Network with professors and classmates while also utilizing career services and considering study abroad opportunities.

Keep an active LinkedIn profile to remain in touch with professional contacts more easily. Doing this allows students to be on other people’s minds more readily while also helping them create personalized messages for future communications.

While all the digital tools and social networking sites available today provide plenty of opportunities to build a diverse network, being able to stand out in this digital crowd may prove difficult. However, it’s possible to build mutually beneficial business relationships by cultivating a network of like-minded individuals in various roles and industries. Following this advice has the potential to help current MBA students and new graduates set course for a successful career path.

Read through this infographic to learn more about how building real networks via virtual networking can lead online MBA students to greater career opportunities.