This guest blog post on networking advice was written by Ramsey Jay Jr., Consortium fellow (Dartmouth, 2005) and a Wall Street-trained finance professional. He’s also the author of the forthcoming book, Empowering Dreamers to Become Achievers.
Networking is defined as interacting with other people to exchange information and develop contacts — especially to further one’s career. While I appreciate the legitimacy of the aforementioned dictionary reference, I believe the most practical networking advice is to answer a question you will undoubtedly face as you progress on your academic and professional journey:
How do you stand out among standouts?
This question should frame the backdrop and govern your practical networking process as you matriculate to B-school and progress professionally.
Rest assured, you are embarking on one of the most competitive application processes of your life. Reviewing the 2018 MBA class profile at top-ranked business schools shows that the class averages a 3.6-plus undergraduate GPA, 700-plus GMAT score and four-plus years of world-class work experience. These candidates are also stalwart champions for change in the community, etc.
Get Ready to Take a Chance
I remember how incredibly humbled I was to have been included as one of the 237 members of the class of 2005 at the Tuck School of Business.
As it turns out, Tuck was also where I learned to adhere to the principle that will help you produce a competitive MBA application, while developing a robust network, enabling you to stand out among standouts: Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
This principle is detailed in chapter one of my book, Empowering Dreamers To Become Achievers. There, I share my story about joining Tuck’s Asia Business Club as one of my first acts toward getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.
I figured the experience would challenge some of my preconceived thinking and open my eyes about Asian culture, business and people. I ended up being correct on all three counts. It was a terrific growth experience. And ultimately, serving as a member of the Asia Business Club is what led to delivering my first professional networking workshop!
You only discover new abilities, overcome fears, create things of extraordinary value and experience real fulfillment when you are out on the edge, stretching yourself outside of that zone of familiarity.
As you think about the nuances of the MBA application process and your job search, it is prudent to give your competition the benefit of the doubt: Their pure paper profile is probably as good as yours.
As a result, I challenge you to revisit some of the most uncomfortable experiences of your past, extract the lessons you learned, marry them into your current narrative, and allow that combined composite to frame the totality and uniqueness of your candidacy and dreams of the future.
Furthermore, it is also that intentional act of expanding your comfort zone, giving yourself the opportunity to convert strangers into supporters who will unearth new capacities of your mind and body.
So go ahead and get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Have faith that it will result in you becoming a standout among standouts with a network replete with the depth and breadth encompassing the totality of who you truly are.
Ramsey Jay Jr. is a Wall Street-trained finance professional with more than a decade of global investment management experience. As founder of Ramsey Jay Jr. & Associates, Ramsey is a widely recognized expert on leadership development, communication consulting and international motivational speaking. Ramsey earned his undergraduate degree from California State University, Fresno and his MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College as a Consortium fellow in 2005. His forthcoming book is Empowering Dreamers to Become Achievers. Preorder the book on his website.
PICTURED ABOVE: Ramsey speaking to a group at the South Central Scholars Winter Career Conference on Dec. 19 at the University of Southern California. South Central Scholars provides scholarship support and mentorship to students from south central Los Angeles who are interested in attending college. Ramsey is a member of the South Central Scholars board of directors.