In some ways the MBA qualification can be a bit of a double-edged sword. Sure it gives you a good all-round business education, but in some circles people have a bit of a negative impression of the sort of people that do MBAs and even use it as a term of derision. I think that’s mainly due to the nature of the type of people MBA courses attract: most MBA students are, by their very nature, ambitious and driven people, however it’s easy for ambitiousness and drive to stray in to, or be interpreted as, arrogance and pushiness.
There was an Oxford Business Alumni (OBA) event the other day in London and a number of the students attended (I did not). This would have been the first formal networking event the students had attended in association with the University and one of the students had emailed the careers director to ask for some networking tips.
I found the networking advice quite interesting – not for the advice itself – rather for what it obviously said about the career director’s experience of guiding a bunch of eager beaver new MBA students. Amongst the “Dos & Don’ts” was advice not to bring your CV to the event and not to “cling-on” to people.
I know some of my colleagues in consulting have found job-hunting MBA students a bit over-bearing and been rankled by the sense of entitlelement and unrealistic expectations.
One of the things I’m determined not to do on this course is to fall in to that “arrogant MBA” stereotype. I had my leaving-do from work last night and one of my colleagues pulled me aside for a chat about the future. His main message to me was, “stay humble“.
I think I’ll blog more about humility in a later post, but in the meantime here is my suggestion to anyone that is about to start their MBA and is going to be networking for jobs: Be Cool. Don’t be over-the-top, or too pushy when it comes to networking – it’s about building relationships that last. You want people to remember you because they liked you and you have something intelligent to talk about – be yourself – be the sort of person you would want to work with – be cool.
Here’s another networking tip: choose your opening line carefully.
I was at a networking event last year and I met the founder of a UK dating website for women who are looking for toyboys (maybe this could be a backup plan for some students if the dream job doesn’t come along 😉 ). She was a very nice lady, very full-of-life and we chatted for a while. A couple of weeks later I was at another networking event and I saw her again so went up to her for a chat. I opened with, “so how’s all the toy-boy stuff going?” Except it wasn’t her – she was a lawyer from the firm that was sponsoring the event. Whoops! It’s ok – she saw the funny side. 🙂