Starting out on your MBA application journey will expose you to a myriad of contacts. Make sure you are remaining connected to all of them.
One of the most powerful things you will achieve through your MBA experience is a global network of dynamic individuals. Most people think of an MBA network as the group of alumni from your alma mater, but it’s so much more than that. You must start thinking of your MBA network as everyone you engage with before, during, or after your MBA process. This includes the application process. Your MBA network is the group of people you will be interacting with for the rest of our career. It’s the six degrees of separation that will set you up for finding subsequent job moves, gathering important information, and answering critical questions.
The sooner you begin building your MBA network, the sooner you will make the mental transformation from pre to post-MBA.
One thing you must remember is that once you go back to business school, you will forever establish a virtual wall in your professional journey. There’s what you did before you went to business school vs. what you do after. You will need a whole new way of getting things done after your MBA, a methodology which heavily leverages your new network. And you can’t wait until you graduate to establish it.
Keeping in touch will only happen if you are disciplined about seeking contact information and diligently following up with sincerity.
The advent of Linked In and other contact tracking software makes this easier on the one hand, but sometimes risks appearing like you’re just “collecting” contacts instead of truly engaging and following up with purpose. Some practical ways to avoid this is to always have a reason for reaching out to someone---whether it be to send them an interesting article (one that they find interesting, not just you!), to wish them a happy work anniversary, or to ask a thoughtful question, having a solid reason for keeping in touch makes all the difference.
So get out there and start building a real network---one that’s there when you need it and for which you can provide value as well.