Soft Skills Series 3: Relationship building for MBA program students

William Woods Business

Building and maintaining relationships is an important part of business, especially when we consider the role relationships play in our work with classmates, colleagues, partners and clients. In business, relationships can often make a difference between winning and losing a project, sale or client. In continuation of our blog series on soft skills, we offer MBA program students four tips on building professional relationships.

Maintain Empathy

Empathy — the ability to understand and share the feelings of another — plays a vital role in ­ business. According to a Forbes article “Empathy in Business: Indulgence or Invaluable?”, there is growing evidence that organizations that have empathetic leaders outperform their peers.

Befriend Classmates and Alumni  

­Look around — your classmates bring experience from a range of industries. This portfolio of knowledge offers you ongoing and invaluable insight. Also, according to a Bloomberg Businessweek article, “The value of the alumni network gets lip service, but rarely do prospective students realize how important it is when making the investment in an MBA. Alumni provide perspective. They are willing to share what they have seen and experienced.”

Connect on LinkedIn

When you establish a connection with your classmate, professor or work colleague, you can use LinkedIn to “keep people in your orbit” as suggested by a Forbes article “4 Ways To Build Meaningful Business Relationships”. However, the article also warns against sending requests to people you don’t know or don’t intend to engage with more actively in the near future.

Be a Resource

The value of taking action often dominates the value of words. Small gestures can mean a lot in the eyes of a professional contact but won’t make major demands on your time. A Business Insider article “10 tips for Building Strong Professional Relationships” suggests sending a relevant link or mailing a note about a book/magazine your contact may enjoy.

MBA students and graduates can apply these skills in class or at work whether they work in a small business in Fulton, MO or at an international company in St. Louis. These universal principles can help them build and maintain long lasting professional relationships that will aid their ongoing professional development and career growth.

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