Clients often tell me that they are surprised by the unwritten rules surrounding MBA admissions, including the importance of building personal connections when you are applying to business school. Here are some tips that will help you network correctly:

  • Understand Why This Matters.

Networking is an important tool for MBA applicants.  Done correctly, conversations with current students, alums and administrators can really enhance your candidacy. As a former Tuck Admissions Officer, I can absolutely tell you that the admissions committee considers personal interactions with applicants – both good and bad.

  • Reach Out.

Don’t feel like you need to know people who have gone to your target schools in order to network. It’s really easy to reach out to community members through the schools themselves – many have formal programs that will connect you with people to talk to, and most schools publish the names and contact information of club and affinity group leaders, who expect to hear from prospective students. Don’t be shy, utilize these great resources.

  • Go to Events.

Sign up for information about coffee chats, receptions, and on campus events. Go to as many as you can, and take advantage of the opportunity to build organic relationships, learn more about the school and demonstrate interest.

  • Be Polite.

This might seem obvious, but being polite doesn’t come naturally to everyone. If you are negative, pushy or grossly uninformed it can actually backfire. Also, don’t overstep boundaries – This includes not asking people who you just met to edit your essays or recommend you.

  • Don’t Forget Your Fellow Applicants.

Other candidates can be a wealth of information. Pool your information about applications, logistics, and school cultures. It makes the process more enjoyable, you are likely to learn useful things and also to meet these people again. The business school world is pretty small.

  • Follow Up.

Be sure to thank people who help you. Again, the MBA world is pretty small, and you never know who might end up being on the hiring committee for your summer internship – or a fellow alumni.