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MBA students practice face-to-face networking in a digital world

Jun 11, 2014

Emerald -3

MBA 2015 candidate Stephen Reddin listening to an Emerald Inc. representative

In a world where smart phones have become the quickest and easiest way to network, students may forget the skill required for face-to-face interaction.

To help MBA students polish their skills, Ivey held a mock networking session involving a make-believe office supply company, a handful of actors and a 37-page background report on the company. Students were expected to interact with the mock company and its executives to enhance their networking skills. (In case you’re wondering, students did know the company employees were actors, but were unaware of several “classmates” being played by actors).

The actors helped students with their capacity to gracefully enter and exit a conversation while asking intriguing questions, inserting a narrative about themselves and leaving the executives with something to think about.

MBA Candidates Ryan Wong and Sapna Mehta walked into the event not knowing what to expect.

“We needed to figure out what is unique about ourselves, and how to get that across in a short amount of time. Ivey is helping us do that. Giving us a safe environment to practice our skills really shows the dedication Ivey has to its students and the confidence they have in our futures,” said Mehta.

This was Wong’s first networking session at Ivey and it ended up being much more challenging than he originally thought.

“It’s much easier to talk about how you are going to do something than actually doing it. Opening up the circle for everyone was awkward. We were all just standing there, waiting for our chance to jump into the conversation and suddenly there would be another student right there on your shoulder,” noted Wong. “It wasn’t something I was used too, but the actors helped a lot. For example, they showed us how our body language was affecting our ability to connect.”

The students will spend countless hours throughout the rest of their year at networking sessions, with real executives, attempting to make themselves visible in a world filled with other young graduates.

Ivey’s Career Management developed the event to help students improve their networking capabilities.

“Market feedback suggested the need for a greater focus on helping students shape their personal narratives in the face-to-face networking environment and this event met that need in a safe setting,” said Brenda Pearson, Associate Director of MBA Career Management.

“Students utilized this as an opportunity to take risks and try on new behaviors. The students fully embraced this as an opportunity to test their skillset.”

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