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The simple secret to networking

35754267_lAs you enter into the MBA process, you often hear alumni say that networking is so important for career growth.

During my time in the UNC Kenan-Flagler Executive MBA program, I wanted to expand my networking activities to include meeting with successful UNC graduates that were years – or decades – ahead of me in their careers.

As a student, I set aside one day per month (the day before class) and traveled up from Florida to network with anyone I believed could be influential on my career. I met with successful millionaires and billionaires, as well as entrepreneurs that failed.

After I finished my networking tour, I traded stories with my peers. I was frequently asked the same two questions:

How did you meet all of these people? How do I network? 

As an entrepreneur these questions baffled me – but many of my peers shared a common sentiment: I don’t know the proper way to ask to meet up with someone.

Entrepreneurs and sales people are used to brushing it off when people say no – but many of my peers were worried about rejection.

So what’s my secret to networking? There really is no secret – but you must ASK. If they say no, you’re in the same place you were before. But if they say yes – which was the only answer I received from UNC alumni – then you have so much to gain.

My best advice is to come prepared and respect people’s time by having your questions prepared.

You will grow through asking the proper questions!

Be conversational. The people you are meeting with probably went through – and still go through – the same process of networking that you are venturing out on right now.

Lastly, ask every person you connect with if they know someone they can introduce you to that could share additional insights on your specialty or career goals.

By Travis Wold (EMBA ’15), co-founder/idea generation, Suit Squares