Networking is not a numbers game—how many connections you have on LinkedIn or names in your contact list. Algorithms can only take you so far. It is about building productive relationships that deliver mutual value and grow stronger over time.
As Berkeley-Haas students seek out and retool themselves for more meaningful work, the Berkeley MBA Career Management Group coaches them on how to network for the best possible results.
Here are their thoughts on five reasons people network and some tips for doing it right:
1. Learn and explore
Networking opens a window into a new industry. It’s a way to figure out how one company (or one MBA program) differs from another. Good techniques include informational interviews and attending industry events.
2. Circulate your name
Just like the best time to find a new job is while you already have one, the best time to network is when you aren’t under any pressure to network. And, keep circling back to the people you network with. Find ways to refresh your networking relationships.
We don’t mean by overpowering people with your 100-watt smile and sterling resume. People tend to remember someone with whom they’ve made a genuine connection. That connection can come from a shared experience or a well-placed question (and strong attention to the answer).
4. Build contacts
Networking isn’t a series of one-off encounters. One connection builds on another. And remember, the relationship has to be mutually productive. Think about expanding your network by connecting other people. (The whole six degrees of separation thing.)
5. Plant a seed
This is related to “impress,” but it goes deeper. When you network, you want to give the other person something to think about that will put you “top of mind” when the time is right. That could be an insight on a topic of mutual interest, an article you email later on, or a tip on the best parking spot no one knows about.
One way to to super-charge your network is by pursuing your MBA. Did you know that all three Berkeley MBA Programs share the same strong alumni network?