One of the most popular reasons students pursue an online Master of Business Administration program is the valuable opportunity to network with classmates, faculty, business leaders and decision-makers within the community as well as future employers. Establishing, growing and maintaining an MBA network both online and offline is essential to making new contacts and can benefit a graduate throughout his or her professional career and personal life. Business relationships matter more than ever, and students enrolled in online MBA programs must now be successful not only in accounting, marketing management and leadership strategy but also in social networking.
The importance of networking in an online MBA program
Social networking, as well as social recruiting, is the norm in today’s highly competitive job market. Networking with classmates is an important part of any MBA program, whether online or on-campus, and business schools have made it easy for MBA students to connect on- and offline in a professional network. Student networking groups and online study groups can provide the opportunity to build contacts across the globe and can provide a place for students to mentor one another and share ideas, achievements and news. Top online MBA programs host networking events to help students meet job recruiters and alumni from various industries.
For students, when it comes to landing a new job, MBA networking can be as beneficial as earning a degree. Jobvite, a recruiting software platform that helps companies target potential quality employees, reports in its 2014 Social Recruiting Survey that 69 percent of recruiters expect competition for jobs to increase in 2015. Social media has transformed the job search process, as more job seekers use virtual networking to find jobs at the same time more companies use networking to find potential employees.
Creating a social media profile on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter is a must for today’s professional. According to Jobvite, social media enables recruiters to find quality hires by targeting talent, engaging candidates, evaluating applicants and showcasing employer brand. Jobvite reports in its 2014 survey that LinkedIn is the number one social network that recruiters use to find job candidates. Ninety-five percent use LinkedIn to search for and contact candidates, while 93 percent of recruiters use the platform to keep tabs on potential employees and to vet individuals before a job interview. The Jobvite survey found that 55 percent of recruiters have reconsidered a candidate based on their social media profile (up 13 percent from 2013). Perhaps more importantly, 73 percent of recruiters surveyed say they have hired a candidate through social media, with 79 percent of that total being hired through LinkedIn.
Other ways online MBA students can network
There are many ways for students to start an MBA network with fellow classmates, faculty and administrators, such as study and mentoring groups, email, conference calls, discussion boards and other electronic forums. Almost all business schools host academic competitions, workshops and seminars, social mixers, club and association activities, career fairs, charitable/volunteering and holiday parties both on- and off-campus that provide excellent opportunities for face-to-face meetings with others. Old-fashioned in-person networking is still the preferred method, according to many experts.
It is important that an MBA program has a vital alumni network that will continue to offer support and resources throughout a student’s academic and professional life. Alumni events assist in building local contacts as well as global connections. A strong alumni network fosters communication between fellow alumni and also serves and mentors current and recent graduates. If managed and nurtured properly, an MBA alumni network provides many ways to stay connected
There are numerous benefits of a strong professional network. Building relationships with peers can help grow a career, providing everything from future job leads and potential business partners to employers, employees, clients, suppliers and angel investors. Professional networking can be the key to a long, successful career.
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