MBA Networking Do’s…and Don’ts

Ten tips for making an impression while keeping that recruiting cocktail party from turning into a disaster

By Kerry Miller

Recruiting season is a whirlwind of events that leaves students at most top B-schools exhausted. “Everyone's schoolwork suffered during our recruiting quarter because of the sheer volume of events we felt we needed to attend,” says Shirin Ghadessy, a second-year MBA at Wharton, where first-year MBAs interested in banking or consulting can expect to attend upwards of 20 information sessions, dinners, cocktail parties, and coffee chats over the course of the fall semester. Check out the following slides for tips on surviving the parade of parties:

DO: Chat up the little guy

 Instead of braving the mob scene for two minutes with a partner or head recruiter, chat up someone else from the company who isn't being bombarded by students. Your chances of making a lasting impression will be better when you have more time for a genuine conversation.





DO: Skip the buffet

 Yes, those taquitos look good, but they could also distract you from your goals at a networking event. Eating beforehand ensures you won't appear ravenous, and you won't worry about dribbling salsa on your tie.







DO: Make it personal

 While it's important to show recruiters you have done your homework by asking insightful questions about their firm, to make a lasting impression it's important to make a personal connection as well. Whether it's a sports team, an alma mater, or a horrible airline experience, find something that will help you relate to a recruiter, person-to-person.







DO: Forget the hard sell

 Know yourself well enough that you can work details about your background and credentials fluidly into a conversation, instead of giving the same scripted routine to everyone you meet.







DO: Respect their time

 Monopolizing recruiters at a crowded event won't win you any points with the company or with your fellow MBAs. Keep conversations to 10 minutes, max.










DON'T: Try to do it all

 Don't go to every networking event advertised. Instead of running yourself ragged, be strategic: Attend only the events where you're most likely to meet the people with whom you want to network, and go to each one with a specific goal in mind.







DON'T : Be an apple-polisher

 Everybody likes a compliment, sure, but nobody likes a lap dog—especially not your fellow MBAs. And recruiters can always sniff out blatant bootlicking. Even if you think you're being smooth, being insincere will still come across extremely quickly.








DON'T: Waste time on filler

 With a short amount of time to make an impression, you don't have time for questions about the weather. Be sure to read up on world events beforehand so you'll have something to contribute to the conversation.








DON'T: Overthink

 Don't let your desire to make a good impression get you tongue-tied. When there's an opportunity to casually bring up something you have done, speak up; and don't waste time thinking about all the things you wish you had already said.









DON'T: Confuse informal with casual

 Until you get an offer, assume every interaction with a recruiter is being noted. Don't let a casual setting—or one drink too man—tempt you into dropping your professionalism.




















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