Making Business Connections While Earning Your Degree Online
Earning an online business degree is a great opportunity to form new business connections.
There’s an old saying: “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” In today’s business environment, knowledge and expertise are valued—but so are relationships, and sometimes they matter just as much as your skills. So it’s a good idea not only to learn everything you can about your chosen field, but also to build strong relationships with those who can help you advance your career.
One highly effective way to expand both your knowledge and your connections is to enroll in a business degree program online. The following tips can help you turn your online degree program into lasting business connections.
Engage With Faculty, Fellow Students, and Alumni
As part of an online business degree program, you’ll have access to a large number of professionals in your field. That’s why you should treat your time in school as more than an opportunity to master new skills. It’s also an opportunity to connect and form valuable relationships.
During each course, make an effort to engage with your instructor. Introduce yourself at the beginning of the course, ask pertinent questions throughout the course, participate fully in class discussions, and give assignments your full effort. This can help ensure that your instructor notices and remembers you, and it increases the likelihood that he or she will want to maintain a professional relationship after the course ends.
You can also make connections through your university’s online alumni network. Most universities have alumni connection events you can attend through online forums or in person. You can also speak with faculty members within your discipline and ask for the contact information of alumni who’ve agreed to speak with students. Alumni can make particularly rich business connections because many are established in their field—which could also be your chosen field—and are eager to help students and other alumni from their alma mater.
Last but not least, you should get to know your fellow students. Those enrolled in online business degree programs are often working adults. This means your fellow students can become business connections even before you or they graduate. Participate regularly in all of your course forums as well as in the general forums offered by your online university. You may be surprised how well you can get to know people through online connections. In fact, there’s plenty of evidence that relationships developed online can be as strong as those developed offline.*
Whether you’re earning an online management degree, an online accounting degree, or any other variety of business degree—from the bachelor’s level to the PhD level—the people you meet through your online university can help you grow your career.
Focus on Meaningful Relationships
The goal of business connections is to build relationships that can help your career (and help you do the same for others). That means focusing on quality, not quantity. Networking experts recommend focusing on developing a select number of meaningful relationships.† What is a meaningful relationship? It’s one where you know the other person on a personal level and they know you on a personal level. Developing this kind of relationship takes time and effort and usually requires you to give as much as you receive. Being helpful and generous to others is a great way to strengthen your connections.
When it comes to your online business degree program, consider helping other students with assignments, making your instructor’s life easier by following guidelines and meeting deadlines, and taking the time to get to know alumni personally rather than simply expecting their help. In this way, you can develop meaningful relationships that can enrich your career for many years after you earn your online business degree.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering online business and management degree programs. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.
*New Republic, Let’s Really Be Friends, on the Internet at https://newrepublic.com/article/121183/your-internet-friends-are-real-defense-online-intimacy.
†Inc., How to Network Like You Really Mean It, on the Internet at www.inc.com/minda-zetlin/8-things-power-networkers-do-make-connections.html.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.