Make an Impression and a Connection

Posted by: Francesca Di Meglio on April 23, 2009

With the economy in turmoil, many MBA graduates are finding the job search tough going. To give readers some insight into the strategies they’re pursuing and the difficulties they face, BusinessWeek has recruited four out-of-work MBAs to write about their experiences for a new feature called “The Hunt” that will appear periodically on the Getting In blog. Comments, as always, are welcome.

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By Juan Manuel Meneses Buchanan
I must say that all the networking and job searching process has been completely new for me. Back home, you build your network in a much more informal way. Because of that it was hard for me to start networking when looking for jobs; it was interesting to see how different cultures have their own networking styles, ranging from an aggressive to a submissive one. Like many of my friends from Latin countries, I fell somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. We normally waited until the end of the networking events and approached the people from different companies on a more personal level because that is our nature. We manage to know the company but also the people with whom we could potentially be working. More importantly, we get to know people who are similar to us. Even then, we don’t always make the short list for interviews or get the job. But our friendship is there for the long haul.

My biggest mistake networking came when I asked a manager at a company that is proud to be “purely fundamental” about using derivatives for a long-only asset. I could tell from the manager’s reaction that I was floundering with water up to my neck, and the smartest move would be to calm down and think of something more appropriate to ask. Trying too hard would only appear as if I was desperate, so I waited until a genuinely smarter question popped into my mind. That time eventually came. When it did, the manager remembered me and my previous question and told me that I had just saved myself with this additional question.

One simple but really important tip for networking or interviews would be that before getting into interviews or networking sessions to do your research and not be completely blind about the person you are meeting. If I know who will be interviewing me, I try to know as much as possible about him, to see if we have something in common besides work. That way, at least I hope, when decisions are to be made, he will remember me not only as a good candidate but also as someone who clicked with him and could fit into the culture.

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Read daily reports from BusinessWeek editors and reporters Louis Lavelle, Geoff Gloeckler, Alison Damast and Francesca Di Meglio and boost your chances of getting into your best-fit B-school.

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