You probably think that you don’t have the time to study and write a blog; after all, you’re at business school to learn, not to mess about on social media, right? Wrong. What you are, most probably, at business school for is to secure your future in business, and, to do this, more and more business school students need to start creating a social media presence.
Social media today is an important way to get across your ideas on a platform from the very start of your business education. It’s a way of tracking your learning and progress through your course but it is also a way of developing a voice for employers to look at and say, “Yeah, this grad really does know what he or she’s talking about.” Whether you’re looking for a following or just for a place to hash out a few ideas or concepts you find interesting during your business education, both can act as valuable examples of how you interact with business on a personal level. Your content may not be seen by many at the beginning, but those that persist can break through to strong readerships and develop strong connections within their industry. This will not only help you further your career prospects, but also to further ideas that might not have been conceived otherwise.
Social media and business education
Social media is more than just posting selfies on Facebook. It is now the thing that society spends the most time doing on the internet, meaning that connecting social media and business is more important than ever. The year 2013 saw huge growth in social media brands such as Google Plus, Instagram, Snapchat, Vine, Tumblr, and Pinterest, suggesting that social media as a cultural phenomenon is still growing.
Strategy consultant Dorie Clark, who works as an adjunct professor of business administration at the Fuqua School of Business, is keen proponent of social media. “LinkedIn allows you to keep in perennial touch with your contacts so you don’t simply lose touch when someone leaves their job, as used to happen in the past. And Twitter is a great opportunity to connect with powerful people in your industry and create ‘warm leads’ so that people have heard of you and are eager to meet you in real life.” Although Clark talks of LinkedIn as a tool to keep in touch, it is also a tool which can be used to get in touch in the first place.
A clear workable knowledge of how social media and business works is only acquired by using it regularly. Whether your business specialization will be in the world of technology, advertising, or a startup, knowing how to mix social media and business to enhance your visibility will be invaluable.
In a saturated job market – a buyer’s market if you will – it is more important than ever to sell yourself by any available means. And to do this you’ll need to create a solid brand for yourself, a unique selling point. You’ll not only want to prove your business skills but you’ll also want to take some time to consider how your personality and business mindset comes across on social media channels you use to network. Branding yourself doesn’t mean you have to show yourself off to anyone who listens, but it does mean you’ll have to get information about what you’ve done or what you’re currently doing out there onto the web so people can see your digital trail of consistent and persistent business ambition for themselves. Developing a brand is also concurrent with figuring out what makes you special, perhaps it’s your strong views on what’s important regarding business in society or a different cultural perspective to bring to the table. Whatever it is, make sure your social media presence backs it up.
“In an increasingly competitive business environment,” Clark says, “you have to find ways to stand out – otherwise, you’re simply another interchangeable commodity. Having a strong personal brand sets you apart and ensures employers want to work with you, specifically. That enables you to command a premium salary compared to peers without a strong personal brand.”
Keeping an MBA blog
In branding yourself then, keeping a blog is particularly helpful. Clark remarks on the value of keeping an MBA blog while at business school. “Blogging has made it possible for ‘unknowns’ – and that includes most business school students – to make a name for themselves on the basis of merit, rather than connections. If you create good content, you can show your talent to the world without waiting for anyone’s approval.”
In her Harvard Business Review article ‘Personal Branding for Introverts’, Clark asserts that keeping an MBA blog is one of the best techniques for “demonstrating thought leadership”. This is perfect for those who may not be as prolific in the classroom as they can be on paper. Although it is important for business education students to vocalize their thoughts in class eloquently and thoughtfully, it is equally as pressing for students to utilize the written word. Often the less vocal students will relish the opportunity to prove themselves through the act of writing their thoughts down and often these ideas can be much more insightful than those thrown around in a case study classroom by those with strong, but not entirely thought through, opinions. “Indeed,” Clark says, “while extroverts desperate for their next fix are trading business cards at cocktail parties, you can build a global brand on the strength of your ideas.”
Clark goes on to say in another article that, “In an information-hungry world there will always be the need for expert content. And there will always be more readers and ‘retweeters’ than there will be creators. If you want to have an impact you might as well be the one setting the agenda by blogging your ideas.”
Improving your career prospects through your MBA blog
As well as writing the book Reinventing You: Define Your brand, Imagine Your Future, Clark works as a consultant for huge clients such as Google, Microsoft and Yale University. Her position within the market strengthens the point she makes about the need for graduates to have a strong digital presence by keeping an MBA blog and understanding the relationship between social media and business education. “Your grades in the MBA program are important, but your online presence is your digital legacy and the first thing prospective employers will turn to when they’re deciding whether or not to hire you. You want to invest in building a strong digital presence that conveys the breadth of your expertise.”