I went to speak at B-school networking event. At this event, local business owners and executives mingled with MBA candidates. A young woman introduced herself to me. She was the student organizer
for the event. “Great job putting this event together!” I said. “I had the idea to make the huge name badges that you see on everyone’s chests,” she said. My name badge was about six by eight inches
in size. Everybody else’s name badge was enormous, too. “I was wondering about that,” I said. “Did you make the badges and the lettering huge so that people with impaired vision can read them easily?”
“No,” she said. “I made them huge so that students can spot the business people across the room and see which ones are worth meeting. We are busy and we don’t have time to waste networking with the
wrong people.” I think my heart stopped for a second. “How would the MBA candidates know which people are worth meeting, when all they can see from a distance is each person’s name badge?” I asked.
“No one wants to meet some independent consultant who works for himself,” said Sarah, the sweet young event chair. “We want to meet the CEOs and CFOs of big companies — the powerful people,
the impressive people!” “Aha,” I said. “Do you agree that that is the most effective networking strategy?” she asked me. “I don’t,” I said. “Power is a funny thing. What is power, to an MBA candidate
who will graduate soon? Power is the ability to get a great job that deserves you. The local entrepreneur who works for himself or herself goes in and out of those large companies every day.
“If you want a job in a huge company, you’re better off establishing a bond with a person who has credibility in those organizations than barging into the CFO’s face and saying ‘Hey there,
I’m about to graduate! Want to hire me?’”