Making Business Connections Online |

Making Business Connections Online

By Avery Phillips

Updated October 6, 2017 Updated October 6, 2017

Your MBA is a fantastic time to make connections. You’ll likely have plenty of options between job fairs and other careers services offerings, internships and projects, direct references from your professors and recruiters, many of which specialize in MBA candidates

But you shouldn’t stop there. With the right strategy, you can extend your reach, connections and career prospects using online resources. A good online presence can supplement the tools you have available when you graduate and start looking to make the first step in your career.

Leveraging online tools to find mentors

Looking for the right people to target can also be a challenge. You have so many great physical resources at your disposal through your school, but how do you branch out of the ‘university bubble’ that people often find themselves in?

Most top programs offer formal alumni networks, but you could also jump onto LinkedIn and look for alumni of your school, then ask to connect and see what they’ve been up to since graduating. Ask about their work experiences, how easy it was for them to land a job, what supplementary things you can start learning to bolster your resume (learn more about online networking here). Quite often, alumni of a certain school are readily willing to recommend or directly hire graduates of their school because they know exactly what kind of education that school provides.

Follow your university’s blog and newsfeeds, and set up a Google alert for the name of your school to find out what alumni are doing in the business world.

Keeping your communication crisp

You’re already learning a set of extensive best practices for business communications. It’s important, however, to make absolutely sure you’re taking that knowledge and applying it in your networking interactions.

With online communications, email and especially on social media, it’s easy to forget the formality and care required when you’re making new contacts. Always work on improving your email etiquette and try to separate your personal feelings from professional communications. We all get a lot of personal messages and quick, throwaway notes in our inboxes. A great way to enforce this separation is to create a networking-only email address, separate from your school, personal, and even work addresses, to help you maintain the right headspace while you’re logged in.

Carefully curate your online persona

Remember that nothing you do on social media happens in a vacuum. Your personal profiles, even if they aren’t linked directly to your professional ones, might get researched by prospective employers and mentors.

It’s fine to save your best behaviour for LinkedIn and let loose a little on Twitter. But be aware that anything you post may affect your professional image, especially if you’re using social media to generate a contact list of industry pros. Which is what you should be doing!

Apart from the obvious things, like avoiding too much foul language, try to focus on the quality of your engagement. Try not to sound too salesy when you interact with networking targets publicly. Look at the conversations they’re having and see if you can add a little tidbit of useful insight or personal experience. Engage with the same kinds of people that they talk to, as well. Insert yourself into the bubble rather than sending a call to action right away.

You don’t need to position yourself as an expert – just as someone who has value to contribute to the conversation. If you can spark a hint of memory when that first outreach goes out, make the person think, “Oh, yeah, I think I’ve seen this name.” then all the better for you.

With the right strategy, you can vastly expand your network while you’re still in school. Being a student is a great opportunity to ask questions since most pros are more than happy to advise students. So, if you ask the right questions, you’re much more likely to get a response than a job seeker who isn’t in school. Once the conversation has been started, then you can start being more direct about what you’re looking for in a career.

This article was originally published in October 2017 .

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