One of the most meaningful perks of earning a Master of Business Administration online is the virtual nature of the education. You don’t have to be a resident where the course is taught, and you can do the coursework any time of the day or night, which makes these educational opportunities possible for those who need to work while earning their degree. However, you may think that virtual classrooms mean that you’re going to miss out on an important part of the educational experience: socializing with your fellow students and building your network of connections and peers. Not true! But how can you still build your business network while earning an MBA online?
Fortunately, you’re not the only student who is asking this question. As education becomes more virtual, students and instructors are adopting technological solutions to the issues inherent with a scattered student body. The widespread availability of web-based conference call solutions (such as Google Hangout and Skype) makes it easier for students to participate in virtual office hours with their instructors. You can even put together an ad-hoc study group for regularly scheduled meetings online.
Don’t forget to reach out and build connections with other students and the staff of the program. As the global marketplace embraces remote workstations and telecommuting, having a broad familiarity with online chat and conference tools will be valuable in your career.
Today, LinkedIn stands as the medium of choice for online professional networking. It’s a free platform that offers numerous professional options for those who want to use the site’s more advanced tools. You can create a profile and find other students in the same program as well as program graduates. Finding a mentor who went to the same school as you is as easy as couple of clicks.
Of course, nothing is quite the same as face-to-face communication, so make sure you take advantage of any opportunities to meet in person. Whether you are seeking more information about the program, interacting with the instructor or alumni, or building team skills with other students in the program, you’ll make real connections from these meetings that will bolster your online interactions.
Presence Is Everything
As the world of business becomes more globally connected and virtually managed, having a solid online profile is, in some ways, as important as how you present yourself in person. Anyone can Google you, and it is important to know what prospective employers or customers are going to find when they do an internet search on you.
The internet will reveal who you are — beyond your finely tuned business profile — and that’s okay, because both employers and customers are going to want to connect with you on a personal level. They are going to want to know a little bit about who you are outside of the sharp business attire and professional persona. Business is still about relationships, and relationships cannot be built on a resume or profile alone.
Building relationships in the virtual world involves constant give and take. You can’t just build a business profile on LinkedIn and sit back and wait for employers to stumble upon your resume; you have to take an active role in creating your online presence. You have to be a part of the constant conversations on the internet, but be sure you conduct your interactions as a business professional. Your social weight on the internet is driven by the quality of your interactions with other people and their content.
As conversations and work itself become more decentralized and time-shifted, learning how to engage, interact and be a productive member of a scattered team will be an important part of your modern business toolkit. Learning the nuances of online and virtual networking will be a vital part of building your career.
Learn more about online MBA programs at the University Texas at Tyler.