The Importance of Networking as a Bachelor of Business Student
Business, by definition, is an activity requiring an exchange of value. To exchange value implies participation between at least two parties. This participation presupposes the discovery of each party to the other. You can’t buy a product or service if you don’t know who offers it. Likewise, offering your wares to a silent market sells nothing. In business (and in most other beneficial human activities), networking is key.
Of the many business principles, theories, and practical skills a business student must learn as she launches a successful career, networking is arguably the most critical and the most personal.
A Student of Networking
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines networking as “the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions.” It is something we do from our earliest days of independent agency. Moving beyond the immediacy of family, we forge a connection with the outside world in ever more complex networks.
By high school, we have created our own caste system with our peers. There are the jocks, the cool kids, the band nerds, etc., reflecting a final stage of adolescent socialization. In the best of circumstances, we also begin to learn the art of networking. In this sense, networking isn’t simply using social media among friends, but reaching out across the familiar landscape of our circles and getting to know the interests and values of others. This widens our own breadth of understanding and experience and lays a firm foundation for success in whatever endeavor one might pursue.
The Business of Networking
For college students, particularly those pursuing a business degree, networking should be one of the primary focuses of their education. The benefits of consistent, effective networking for business are well researched. It opens markets, creates valued customers, and forges strategic partnerships.
Obviously, securing financial capital is paramount for any business. However, the concept of social capital must not be overlooked. In many instances, social capital could arguably be the main driver leading to the acquisition of financial capital. The good news here is that, through solid networking, social capital can be acquired even as students work toward their Bachelor of Business degree.
Networking as a Bachelor of Business Student
Dr. Amarendra Bhushan Dhira, CEO and Editorial Director at CEO World magazine, wrote an article highlighting his advice on the five best ways students can network as they prepare for a career in business:
- LinkedIn: Social media, in general, may be both a blessing and a curse. Nonetheless, building connections through online platforms is firmly established across nearly all sectors of society. LinkedIn is the clear leader for business professionals. The ability to expand one’s circle of influence is amplified through a professional and consistent presence on LinkedIn.
- Seniors, alumni, and faculty: Within every good business school is a wealth of experience, knowledge, and advice. Utilize it. But do your homework first. Know something about the professor, senior student, or alumnus before approaching them for advice.
- Internships: Participating in internships is an excellent means of building both relationships and practical experience in your chosen field.
- Guest lectures and conferences: Guest lectures and conferences, whether in school or outside, offer opportunities to interact with leaders and experts.
- Clubs and competitions: Joining clubs and participating in inter-school competitions is a great way to meet fellow students and forge bonds that may possibly last a lifetime.
This list is hardly exhaustive but it is a good starting point to brainstorm the many possible opportunities you have to learn the art of networking.
Students of business can effectively start their careers by adopting a program of networking as a core element of their education.
Networking is About Relationships
Riddhi Kalsi and Robbie Samuels offer some last bits of advice in a Harvard Business Review Ascend article:
“Regardless of who you reach out to, focus on building the relationship, not immediate results,” they write. “By focusing on the long-term possibilities, you will discover opportunities to grow in your career and build a strong network of peers, professors, and alumni.”
From high school, through college, and out into a thriving business career, networking is about relationships, authenticity, openness, and honesty. All else will flow from there.