Networking Tips for Business School Applications

It's not what you know, but who you know!

It's not what you know, but who you know!

I’ve always been a social person who values friendships. Given this you would probably imagine that I’ve always been a natural networker. The truth, though, is that initially I wasn’t a huge fan of networking. Why? It wasn’t because I was scared or intimidated to approach someone new. Rather I felt that networking was essentially befriending someone with the motive of using them for their expertise or knowledge – a concept I felt was disingenuous. I was also probably too proud to ask for help even though I was happy to assist others. Let me give you an example. At law school, I had to read and summarise countless cases (a task that I’m certain led me to require glasses!). As you can imagine this was time consuming and extremely challenging. Many of my fellow students simply approached students in the class above for their notes. Instead, I decided to write my own. Guess whose life was easier… 

When I first went through the MBA admission process I attended MBA admission events in my home city, but didn’t build strong connections with students, alumni or admissions. As a result, despite a 770 GMAT, my applications failed. When I applied the following year, I took a new approach: network, network, network! With support from numerous students and alumni I reshaped my applications and succeeded – I gained admission to multiple schools and even won a two-year merit scholarship.

Below are my top networking tips:

  1. The best places to find potential contacts are:
    • LinkedIn
    • MBA admission events
    • Business school websites/blogs
  2. Reach out with a concise email message that explains your background, motivation and request.
  3. Your goals should be to:
    • Build relationships by expressing a genuine interest in attending business school
    • Develop an inside view of what business school is really like
    • Work out if a MBA program is a good fit for you given your professional goals
  4. Prepare questions before your networking meeting/call with the above goals in mind
  5. Take notes of the key points from your meeting/call
  6. Send a short thank you note
  7. Invite contacts to join your LinkedIn network and use your expanded network to find new targets to reach out to
  8. Reach out to the admissions committees to introduce yourself and to maintain a dialogue with them about how the admissions process is going

Over the course of my life my opinion on networking has changed dramatically. I now believe that networking is an extremely powerful tool, one that I wish I employed earlier on in my career. If you haven’t started networking, start today! The business school community is extremely friendly and I’m sure you’ll find their advice helpful for your upcoming applications.