Professional opportunities come and go, but for MBA graduates, cohorts are forever... as long as you network! The peers, professors, and business leaders students meet in business school are an advantageous resource for graduates years after they've finished their MBA program—that's why professional networking opportunities are one of the primary reasons why students pursue MBAs. 

MBA student networking

The Value of a Professional Network

The professional network you build at business school will extend beyond your peers to include contacts outside of your program: you'll interact with professors in the classroom and during global immersions, business leaders on and off campus, working alumni, and other professional connections at networking events. 

According to LinkedIn, 80 percent of professionals consider networking important to career success, and more than 60 percent of professionals find that their professional network gives them more opportunities. Professional contacts can alert you to opportunities you might not otherwise be aware of—in fact, networking is so important to success in business that many MBA programs even include it in their curricula!

Businesses also rely on informal referrals. According to Business Network International (BNI), a networking organization with around 200,000 members, 98 percent of businesses rely on referrals to gain new clients and partnerships. Future business leaders in MBA programs will benefit from a network of fellow graduates when they inevitably hire new employees. 

Find and Open the Right Doors

No matter how your MBA program ranks, there will likely be a strong emphasis on networking—and it's important to start early. If you're currently applying to MBA programs, contact the schools you're interested in and ask about their professional networks.

For those currently earning their MBA, get to know your peers and professors and attend networking events on campus. Find out what resources your school offers in terms of professional support before and after graduation. It may also be helpful to join business organizations (such as your local Chamber of Commerce), incubators, or entrepreneurial networks. And remember: it's never too early to pursue employment opportunities!

Although networking is ultimately about whom you know, it's also about how you reach out—and how you support others in return. Expanding and strengthening your professional network is one great reason among many to earn your MBA, but it will be up to you to take advantage of the resources at your disposal, building relationships and pursuing opportunities. 

Quiz: Should You Take the GMAT or GRE?

The GMAT is not the only test in the business school game anymore. Answer a few questions and will help you decide whether to to take the GMAT or the GRE.