Leading at a law firm or at a business today is dramatically different than it was many years ago. The world is bigger, information travels through different channels, and organizations and processees are far more complex than they were before. So how can you still influence important decisions and shephard important deals in the midst of this complexity? In my view, it all starts with building good relationships.
A colleague of mine recently recommended I read the book “Never Eat Alone” by Keith Ferrazzi. He recently gave it a read, and he told me that my style and background reminded him a lot of Keith. I didn’t think too much of it at first, but trusted his opinion so figured it might be worth a shot. So I picked up the book about two weeks ago and just finished reading. It’s definitely a good read. It’s definitely relevant for those in the MBA world. And my colleague was definitely correct. I’ve found a number of things in common with Keith.
In the book, Keith lays out the specific steps he uses to connect and stay in contact with others—friends, colleagues, family, and associates. He basically sees the world around him as a place that should be based on generosity, where he helps friends and colleagues, and helps people connect with each other, rather than networking for personal gain.
I enjoy his approaches and theories about networking and also agree with the emphasis he places on it. But whether or not you agree with his philosophies, I think the topic is very relevant for all of us MBA applicants/admits/students. In MBA programs, students’ schedules are jam packed 7 days a week–studying for class, practicing cases, attending and planning events, meeting with professors, and the list goes on. We will all interact with thousands of different people in a 2-year span. And if you’re on your game, this process begins well before we ever set foot in our first class.
As such, I think it’s important to think about what you want to get out of those interactions. Perhaps you want to run for a specific club leadership role or maybe student government. Perhaps, you want to meet everyone in a certain company or industry or maybe just find the right colleague who can prep us for a job interview. Perhaps you want to make sure you have a huge network after school or maybe even just have a really good time there. Maybe you want to do all of that. No matter what your goals are, making friends and contacts is an important part of school.
We don’t all have to be power networkers, but I think it’s important that we figure out how we want to balance our networking energies and schedules with everything else. And while most of us will have some preconceptions about our strategies going in, I suspect that we really don’t know yet, so it will be a lot of learning as we go. One thing I do know is that once my program begins, I don’t plan on eating alone too many times.