10 expert networking tips on how to build your business contacts before, during and after your EMBA

 10 expert networking tips on how to build your business contacts before, during and after your EMBA  main image

In the first of this two part series, QS TopExecutive gets some top tips on networking from Neil Munz-Jones, author of The Reluctant Networker.

Extending your network of business contacts is a true benefit of the Executive MBA. But what is the best way to utilise this newfound connection of likeminded individuals?

“Networking can no longer be seen as the exclusive domain of people looking to drum up new business or find a job,” says Neil Munz-Jones. “In today’s connected world where we are expected to have the answers to everything instantly, networking is an essential tool just to do our jobs well.”

Yet, as Munz-Jones points out, many working professionals are ‘reluctant’ rather than ‘natural’ networkers, put off by the thought of ‘cold calling’ friends of friends or working a room full of strangers at an event.

As an EMBA candidate, it’s important to make the most of this instant network you’ll become a part of as soon as you step into the business school classroom. So how can you overcome your reluctance?

Tip 1: Make it easy for people to help you

“I am always amazed by how willing people are to help others, even if there is no direct ‘quid pro quo’ for them,” says Munz-Jones. “People like to help but you have to make it easy for them. Be clear on what kind of roles you are interested in and once you’ve identified these make sure your ‘elevator pitch’ is succinct and memorable.”

Tip 2: Identify your business friends

People who already know you and are willing to recommend you are your ‘business friends’ so focus first and foremost on them. “You could spend 24 hours a day networking and get very little out of it,” says Munz-Jones. “So be clear on who you want to network with. Focus on people who are both in your field and who are likely to help you.”

Tip 3: Become an expert

Networking needs to be reciprocal. You want people to network with you as much as you network with others. The easiest way to do this is to establish yourself as an expert in your field. “As one of my outplacement contacts told me, ‘you need to stay “razor-sharp” in your field of expertise’ so that when people need specific help they think of you,” advises Munz-Jones.

Tip 4: Get speaking

If you dread approaching others and engaging them in conversation at events, Munz-Jones has a way around that. “The best way to find people to talk to at an event is to be a guest speaker,” he says. “Find a subject on which you are an expert and offer to speak. Organizers are always looking for speakers and it is a great way to raise your profile. Why not invite along some of your contacts as well?”

Tip 5: Be selective

The key to becoming a successful networker is getting out there and doing it, but Munz-Jones issues some caution. “Be selective about the events you go to or you could waste a lot of time and get quite disheartened,” he says. “Target the events where you think the people who you want to network with (see Tip 2) are likely to be. And when you’re there, make the most of them. Don’t just talk to the friend or colleague you went with!”

Neil Munz-Jones is the author of The Reluctant Networker, published by Hot Hive books. He has an MBA from INSEAD.

Read part two of this series

Written by QS Blogger
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