I never really gave much thought to networking early in my career. As a baker there simply wasn’t much networking to be done! Then as a Realtor, I had the belief that my marketing was all about using the phone for cold calls, hosting open houses, and running some ads. I was young.
Eventually college happened and soon thereafter, consideration of pursuing the exalted MBA entered my mind. Having finally learned to ask around for other people’s help by this point, a friend referred me to someone he knew that had received his MBA from the institution I was considering and graciously arranged for a meeting. It was that day that I learned I had been doing it all wrong. Or, at least really wrong.
In meeting with my new acquaintance, I’ll call him John, he shared with me that the MBA was a very good education, but that was not where the real value lied. John shared with me that it was the relationships he formed during that time that were truly priceless. So priceless, in fact, that he was not sure he would do it again if those relationships couldn’t be cultivated.
The conversation swirled around how the new MBA program format was segregating disciplines from each other. Finance students hung out only with Finance students. Marketing with Marketing, etc. When John was earning his degree, the disciplines crossed paths throughout the curriculum. Information Systems students were able to develop relationships with Accounting students, Statistics students with Human Resources students. Perspectives and ideas where shared between the different groups.
It was from these environments, John explained, that he felt a synergy. Ultimately it actually culminated into a company being formed by these friends that still exists and thrives today as of this writing.
John was saying that if it were not for the networking between people in the different disciplines, the education would not have the same return on investment and would not be worth it. If the education were strictly book-based it would not be worth it. It was the connections that made all the difference to him.
Since that time, connections have also made all the difference to me as well. The friends I’ve made, the business I’ve done, and the experiences I’ve had.
It is something that I have to work at doing. However, once consideration is given to how much richer it has made life, it certainly helps make it easier.