The old adage "it's not what you know, it's who you know" has some truth to it. A PayScale article explored the role networking plays when employers bring on new hires, and it's significant. The majority of job openings (between 70 and 80 percent) are filled without ever being publicly listed. Of the jobs that are listed, 40 percent are filled based on a personal recommendation by someone working within the hiring company.
Since most companies hire based on personal connections, job candidates would do well to brush up on their networking skills. Enrolling in an MBA program is a great way to build your network — and your skill set. Thanks to class forums and group projects, students in an online MBA program, like the one at Boise State University, have as much opportunity to network as their on-campus peers.
How Men and Women Network Differently
One key to becoming a better networker is to understand the ways men and women network differently. A recent article in Harvard Business Review highlighted those differences based on years of research. Researchers found that men benefit most from being connected to multiple "hubs." The study defined hubs as people who serve as points of contact between different student groups.
Researchers found that women benefited most from MBA-related job placements too, but they were much more likely to rise to the highest ranks within a company if they had access to an "inner circle of close female contacts."
No matter which method works best for you, consider these tips when growing your own personal network.
- Break out of your bubble: Individuals tend to seek out and socialize with like-minded people who come from similar socio-economic backgrounds. Those traits may work well for socializing, but they can limit connections in the workplace. By connecting with colleagues who may be much older or younger, for example, aspiring business leaders can diversify their networks.
- Avoid closed circles: If your list of networking contacts closely matches those of your colleagues, you may need to branch out to individuals outside of your circle.
- Be patient: Successful networking can take years. The connections that lead to meaningful promotions come from friendships and relationships that are cultivated over months and years, not days.
- Introverts can be great networkers: If you consider yourself shy, put yourself in situations where you understand the topic at hand. Try giving presentations or jumping in on conversations when you can meaningfully contribute. Networking online is also a great option.
- Talk about others: Your colleagues may become turned off if all your conversations are about yourself. Remember, networking is about building relationships. Engage others on topics they enjoy.
- Take your networking efforts off the clock: Chamber of Commerce mixers, team-building events and after-work socializing can broaden your network.
Gain an International Network of MBA Cohorts
Students enrolled at Boise State become part of an international alumni network. The university's online MBA can be completed in as few as 12 months.
Learn more about Boise State University's online MBA program.
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