Virtual Networking: Why Networks Matter for MBA Graduates

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An estimated 70% of all jobs aren’t published or publicly available on job search sites, and up to 80% of jobs are filled through networking. Online MBA graduates searching for their next positions often find that networking is key to career success.

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


Why Networking Is Important for Online MBA Graduates

Online graduates might be tempted to think the internet has every opportunity they’re looking for. But face-to-face networking is a must—for numerous reasons.

Top 8 Reasons Why Online MBA Graduates Must Network

Networking provides an opportunity to exchange ideas. These ideas can help professionals build the knowledge that can sustain success. Receiving and exchanging ideas also fosters trust and long-term relationships.

Networking can elevate a graduate’s prominence within their professional circle. Professionals will take note of the achievements made by someone in their network. For a student, this could make it easier to attract potential employers and clients.

Meeting individuals who are advanced in their careers could turn into a stepping-stone for future opportunities. Over time, more meetings with individuals within an established network could yield exponential opportunities.

Additionally, networking can create a resource library. A network built around an individual’s professional interests can become an integral source of information that they could call on for guidance regarding key decisions.

When graduates need outside help for their careers, networks can offer support. Personal connections with high-profile individuals can help graduates meet challenges, and in some cases, networking could translate to obtaining financial support.

Networking also encourages career growth. Prominent professionals built their careers via a long-term process. Most often, their trajectory traces back to connections they made along the way.

The courage and perseverance necessary to build a network fosters self-confidence. Confident professionals excel in other areas of their careers, such as interviewing for roles or building a company.

Finally, networking can support long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships. It’s not an easy, fast, or simple process, but it can be rewarding.

Why Many People Find Jobs Through Networking

According to Drafted’s 2020 Employee Referral Programs Benchmark Report, most companies hire 20%-40% of new employees through referrals.

Alternative Hiring Methods and Benefits

Employers rely on alternative hiring tactics such as referrals for many reasons. They may be seeking to avoid open online applications, which can be an expensive, time-draining process. They may also want to keep the hiring decision private for strategic reasons; for example, the role might be part of a project not ready to be public knowledge. Additionally, they may have received a recommendation of a high-quality individual from an employee.

On the employee side, applying for a job through a referral offers several benefits. For instance, a professional reference from a current employee holds unique value, as the hiring manager will know the employee is confident in the referral. This can give the job candidate a leg up on the competition. Additionally, a job referral can help candidates at least land an interview. They won’t have to worry about whether their resumes got reviewed, as their applications will be prioritized.

MBA Networking Tips

Networking entails more than simply attending events and handing out business cards. Effective networking requires strategic effort.

How to Take Networking to the Next Level

Attending events early on in a professional’s education and career can be key to effective networking. An MBA student’s job search starts the day they start school via networking with their peers. Ideally, students will attend both traditional and nontraditional network functions, targeting at least one a week. Students should also prepare and practice their “elevator pitch.” Networking events are useless if a student isn’t fully prepared to explain their professional background.

Outside of events, students should build a LinkedIn profile and connect with individuals who are part of a prospective employer’s network. Keeping social media profiles updated to reflect current goals is also important. Additionally, reaching out to at least one or two school alumni per week can be beneficial.

Volunteering at an organization affiliated with a professional field not only is a great network-building strategy but also allows students to give back to the community. Finally, students should strive to be sociable in their personal lives, as even just saying “hello” to someone at a public venue could turn into a conversation with someone who can influence their career.

Build a Network, Create a Career

The formula for career success calls for a commitment to networking. Online MBA graduates will set themselves up for long-term success if they focus on building a network, one event and one contact at a time.