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“In the end, the most important thing will not be the titles you have held or the money you have made but the kind of person you have become.” ∞ Judy Robinette, Author of How to Be a Power Connector
Not long ago a friend mentioned he was considering enrolling in an expensive executive MBA program. I was surprised since he already has a successful business. He said it would be good for networking. This got me thinking. At a minimum cost for an EMBA of about $50,000, is it worth it?
Why Does Someone Want to Know You?
There are three ways you can use an EMBA to make contacts. Get to know businesspeople teaching the classes. Attend job fairs and other arranged interactions with companies and their recruiters. Connect with the school’s alumni.
Here’s the rub. Getting your foot in the door is the easiest part. The person might help you merely because you both went to the same school. It depends on his strength of feeling for the school since he knows little or nothing about you.
There are other, potentially better grounds for connecting. The U.S. military is the largest fraternity in the world. Service members want and like to help each other out. And having military service in common, we know more about each other than people who attended the same school.
If you haven’t served in the military or gone to college never fear. There are other reasons someone would want to know you. Do you love dogs? Are you passionate about fishing? Do you have a particular challenge raising your child? People in all walks of life from CEOs to manual laborers have these interests in common. Unless you and the person you’ve connected with are both diehard fans of your school, a common, deep interest is more fertile ground for the hard work ahead.
Networking is About Relationships
When you don’t know someone well, are you likely to do him a favor that puts your reputation at risk? Most people won’t. It makes sense. You’ve built up credibility among your colleagues. Why squander it by going out on a limb for a stranger.
Before you ask a contact for help you need to establish a relationship. Strengthening connections takes thought and work. If all you share is having gone to the same school, reasons to touch base can be hard to come by. Conversation can lag. If you share a common passion you’ll always have something to talk about.
This is what makes social media so powerful. You can find people at a target organization who have similar interests.
There’s no bigger waste of time than networking to collect names. Unless you establish a basis for an ongoing relationship don’t bother. Do you have at least one common interest? Do you share similar values? Do you like speaking with the person? If you answered no to any of these questions you lack the foundation for a fruitful connection. Move on. As The Marvelettes sang, “There’s too many fish in the sea.”
You don’t need to spend ten of thousands of dollars creating a reason someone might want to know you. With such abundant fishing holes as LinkedIn and Facebook, you can easily find great people to connect with.
What passion do you have on which to build relationships? Please comment below.