Imperial College Business School is no stranger to bringing together the best minds in both academia and industry to tackle some of the world’s biggest problems and drive innovation. While many are familiar with the value brought forward by the confluence of theory and its application to business, the factor that completes the trinity is often overlooked - networking.
I’m Rohit Ravi and I am currently pursuing MSc Business Analytics (online, part-time) while working in the asset management sector. Through this blog, I hope to share why building a network while studying online is invaluable to unlocking opportunities, and my personal experiences and tips to network effectively.
Take advantage of London
I must admit that studying in London has made me spoiled for choice at the seemingly endless number of opportunities and people that I could reach out to. I have attended events local to the Business School such as the ‘Spotlight on Energy Careers’ panel that brought together Imperial alumni and guest speakers from some of the UK’s biggest energy players to discuss trends within the energy market including ESG, climate finance and renewables. Events like this are great opportunities to tune into a smaller, more specialised crowd and make connections over topics that you are passionate about.
Similarly, London gives you the chance to go big! Don’t shy away from large-scale events like CogX, which can offer up chances to discover new pursuits and engage with those who have different backgrounds and experiences from you. Although the opportunities to network are limitless, that very fact can make the process overwhelming! I would recommend taking someone along with you and doing a little bit of research on the companies or individuals you intend to speak with to make the process smoother and more enjoyable.
Follow up with your connections on LinkedIn
The value of LinkedIn cannot be understated. Think network effects – more meaningful connections lead to more opportunities. Remember to follow up with individuals that you found engaging, team members you worked with or even people who you bumped into and left a mark on you.
I find that cross-posting machine learning/AI content on LinkedIn is an effective way to engage with my network by sparking discourse. I would also recommend joining LinkedIn communities and following pages that post articles relevant to your interests. Some pages that I particularly enjoy engaging with are the Stanford Institute for Human-Centred Artificial Intelligence, MIT Technology Review and Visual Capitalist.
Networking does not always come naturally!
If you’re anything like me, the prospect of walking up to someone or organising a virtual catch-up does not come naturally to you and is rather daunting. I recently attended the ‘Networking Masterclass’ virtually hosted by Will Kentish and Imperial College Business School and discovered that networking is no more than a skill, which means it can be learned and mastered! I’d like to share three tips that have helped me network effectively:
- Pick up the phone and talk to people. While it’s convenient to shoot someone an e-mail or text, there’s nothing like an ‘old-fashioned’ conversation over the phone. Share your mutual interests and don’t be afraid to shy away from work topics – we’re all human at the end of the day!
- Try to engage in meaningful small talk. Instead of asking yes/no questions (did you have a good weekend?) ask more open questions (what was a highlight from your weekend?). It often leads to a more natural conversation and allows you to learn more from the person you’re talking to.
- Who do you know who…? is a great question to ask to expand your network. Don’t be afraid to ask a connection to recommend another connection when looking for an opportunity.
It’s important to remember that these are the tips and opportunities that worked best for me and may not necessarily reflect your networking journey! I am fortunate to have met some incredible people, landed a dream internship, and engraved some unforgettable experiences in my mind by stepping out of my shell.
If you walk away from this blog post with just one message let it be this – take the leap, it’s always worth it!