Networking in the new year - advice from John Helmers Sr. associate director, career development
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The holiday break is upon us which means MBA students are sleeping, relaxing, skiing, traveling, and maximizing this well-deserved hiatus between busy semesters. Once those itches are scratched, however, many enterprising students are using the long holiday break to nurture and grow their networks. Networking does not need to take place at a formal networking event, and here are a few simple things I recommend students do over the holidays (and throughout the year!):
- Rekindle relationships. Think about your pre-MBA experience and the managers, leaders, colleagues and friends who took an interest in your professional development. Send them a quick update about classes you’re taking, projects you’re working on, and any activities you’re involved in. Also offer to help them in the New Year…networking shouldn’t be a one way proposition!
- Nurture your newer network: Over the course of the last semester you met people at networking events, career fairs, on treks, in job interviews, etc. Most people neglect to nurture those relationships early in their development and they quickly become stale. Take this chance to re-engage, wish them a happy new year and thank them for their support in the past. Don’t wait until you have an “ask” for them.
- Identify Aspirational Relations: Find an alum in an aspirational role at a company of interest and connect with them in a thoughtful manner. Asking politely for a 20 minute informational interview (in-person or remote) when done respectfully and with clear objectives can often provide important insights and you might just find an advocate at the same time.
Networking doesn’t need to be the fake, fawning, empty experience that many equate it with. Investing in relationships, not simply making connections, is the essence of networking. If cultivated authentically your network will provide support, wisdom, and might just be the single largest influence on the trajectory of your career.