The Value of a Career Networking Event

MBA classmates at a networking event
Enjoying the final moments of our last term with my classmates Natalie and Kathy

While reviewing the calendar of events during our elective term, I asked “what day is it again?” because our schedule was so packed! Realizing that the Experienced Hire Networking Event was the next day, I had to set aside time to do some research.

The event was offered through Fuqua’s Career Management Center (CMC), and the companies in attendance were specifically interested in professionals with 10 or more years of experience. This excited me on 2 levels. First, it was an optional event and didn’t have any prerequisites to attend. And second, the companies in attendance represented a variety of industries including, finance, health, transportation and consulting.

Knowing this—why was I finding it a challenge to show up?  Well, since I had transitioned to a new work role earlier during my MBA program, I wasn’t currently looking. I was of the opinion that there wasn’t much benefit going—along with my appreciation for adequate sleep (7 hours preferred).  As I walked back to my hotel room, I remembered that since childhood, I had always taken advantage of circumstances afforded to me.  So rather than viewing this event in terms of what it would cost me during my busy schedule, I started to focus on its intrinsic value.

Creating New Connections

Earlier in my career, I wanted to connect with as many professionals as I could and I would haphazardly ‘work the room’ to collect business cards. Unfortunately, this didn’t sit well with my personality, and I started to realize that a meaningful connection takes time to nurture. So now, I target and research a few companies or individuals, keeping in mind that the networking event is simply the first move in developing a fruitful relationship. I’ve been successful at maintaining several, with a few even turning into lasting friendships.

In the end, the Experienced Hire Networking Event connected me with firms in finance, including financial services and private equity. My colleagues and I really enjoyed establishing new connections, particularly with the representative from Halstatt Real Estate Partner venture capital firm.

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A few classmates and I enjoyed learning more about Halstatt Real Estate Partners

Expanding My Knowledge

I have always enjoyed learning, and this networking event was the perfect venue to bounce ideas off of like-minded professionals. For instance, I stopped by Fidelity Investment’s table and learned about Fidelity Charitable. I spoke candidly with the representative, expressing my interests in serving on non-profit boards and gaining insight from the different strategies she has implemented.

Refining My Pitch

Networking events are a great place to refine your ‘elevator pitch.’ Throughout my MBA, the CMC has held sessions on perfecting the pitch, and while I attended a few, I definitely needed more practice. You see, the pitch is not only useful when you are seeking employment, but when you introduce yourself in a business setting.  As I practiced, I adjusted it to the targeted party, ultimately helping my confidence level. I even used it on a few Fuqua alumni.

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The networking event was also open to Fuqua alumni and I had a chance to catch up with a few recent graduates

Lasting Memories and Value

Another reason I attended the networking event was because it was our final class residency and one of the last times I could socialize with my colleagues. While I didn’t go to all outings, with each one I did, I learned from my colleagues’ diverse perspectives and enjoyed sharing in all our experiences.

What brought me to Duke’s Weekend Executive MBA program, was my desire to become a better version of myself, so, I took advantage of what the CMC offered. Not only has this helped me transition into my current role; it will continue to add value throughout my career. The CMC team offers other sessions such as case interviewing, job interview preparation, etc. But one thing I realized, is that a Duke Executive MBA networking event is beneficial whether or not you’re seeking employment.

Paulina Bolton, Weekend Executive MBA student at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business

Paulina Bolton

Weekend Executive MBA, Class of 2015

I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, as the eldest of 6 girls. Yes, all girls equals fun... Read More

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  • Marnita Caldwell

    You have given me a renewed excitement in networking and building lasting relationships. With some better time management I can make the next events I attend very successful. Thanks!