Five Ways for Online MBA Students to Expand Their Network
Students enrolled in Baylor’s top-ranked Online MBA program have ample opportunity to build strategic connections for the future.
Five Ways for Online MBA Students to Expand Their Network
David Coe, the associate director of Student Services for Baylor’s Online MBA (OMBA) program, likes to ask new students a simple question: “What would you like to get out of your MBA experience?”
Frequently, their answer touches on the importance of building a stronger network. They recognize that who they know matters just as much as what they know—and they are committed to forming authentic connections throughout their time in the program.
While the art of networking may take different shapes and forms than in a traditional in-person program, it is equally rewarding for students who take the time to master it.
Below, David shares five key ways that OMBA students can build their network:
1. Attend an in-person event.
Our students build strong bonds in virtual settings, but we recognize that meeting in person adds an additional layer of connection. Simply being in the same room as someone and having the chance to strike up a casual conversation over coffee can be a powerful thing.
On a quarterly basis, the OMBA program hosts an in-person event that gives students the opportunity to meet classmates, professors and alumni offline. Last December, for example, students met in Dallas for a Christmas party, where they caught up with each other’s lives and discussed the highlights of their experience so far. We have also hosted events like the recent book launch of Why Managers Matter: The Perils of the Bossless Company by Baylor Professor Peter Klein, chair of the Department of Entrepreneurship and Corporate Innovation. This event gave OMBA students the opportunity to connect with Klein, alumni and students from across MBA programs. We hold our events where many of our students live, such as in the Dallas area, and invite industry partners from the area to join as well.
2. Participate in an OMBA Connect event.
OMBA Connect events take place in a virtual setting to include as many students as possible. From panels and meet-and-greets to speed networking events, OMBA Connect is designed to maximize students’ exposure to classmates and experts across industries. Sometimes, our events highlight a specific subject matter that OMBA students are learning about in the classroom. For example, we hosted a global trade and supply chain management roundtable discussion that invited the three professors who teach within the concentration to weigh in on the most pressing challenges in their industry. After a Q&A with the professors, we opened the floor to students to ask questions and share their own experiences.
Other events are more focused on career development themes. We frequently bring in partners from the Career Center to work with students on everything from building an effective LinkedIn profile and resume to preparing for tough interviews.
3. Leverage group assignments to strengthen relationships with fellow students.
At a Baylor football game last fall, I met a military veteran who had become close friends with another veteran he met through an OMBA group assignment. This is a common story. Students build camaraderie with their classmates over the days and months they spend in the trenches, working together toward a common goal. In the process, they connect with classmates from a diverse range of industries, locations and backgrounds. Typically, professors assign students to random groups to complete group assignments. This randomness works in students’ favor, increasing their chances of encountering a brand-new perspective or learning about a job they may not know existed.
4. Prioritize faculty office hours.
Every professor who teaches within the OMBA program hosts at least one office hour a week. We strongly encourage students to attend each office hour, whether or not they have a question about their coursework. These office hours are not just a prime learning opportunity—they are also a prime networking opportunity. Simply by showing up, students can pick the brains of their professors, learn from the questions posed by their peers and build relationships in a more personal setting. Faculty members at the Hankamer School of Business maintain close ties with industry, which perfectly positions them to make strategic introductions and suggest new leads to follow.
5. Participate in interactive community-building activities.
In the OMBA program, we are constantly striving to carve out spaces for connection in creative ways. We recently compiled all the zip codes of our students and created a heat map that displays the geographical distribution of the current OMBA class. No personal information was visible, but students could choose to respond to the map with a blurb about who they are, where they live and any social media information they are comfortable sharing. We had a fantastic response rate, which bodes well for students looking to connect in person with classmates who live or are traveling nearby.
When I consider the students who have graduated from Baylor’s OMBA program over the past eight years it has been offered, I can point to at least one trait that defines those who are the most successful: They take networking seriously. Not content to remain on the sidelines, they work to graft themselves into the community. They place connection on an even playing field with their coursework, recognizing that network and knowledge go hand in hand when it comes to maximizing the value of their degree and achieving their long-term goals.
Are you looking forward to expanding your own professional network? Click here for more information about Baylor’s Online MBA program or fill out the form below to speak directly with an admissions advisor.