If you are a graduate of a business school (or maybe just attended a business school for a while), did you take any classes in networking as part of your required curriculum?
I recently read an article on Entrepreneur.com that dispelled the “Three big lies about business networking.” While all three of the points were well-made and good reading for anyone who is questioning their networking ability, I was particularly struck by the last piece of the article.
The author, Dr. Ivan Misner, wrote that he was often confronted with people in academia who would tell him that networking is not a hard science and its effects cannot be measured. He explained that he was not surprised by this response and he believes this is due to the fact that most people who teach business have never owned a business. Misner argued that if you ask any entrepreneur who is successful in his craft, he will tell you that networking is the most essential skill a professional can have. If these professors have never had to build their social capital in order to make a business thrive, how can they be expected to recognize its importance?
I spent a lot of time thinking about this article because I also advocate networking as critical for anyone who is serious about advancing their career, but Dr. Misner make me consider more its absence as a formalized piece of a business education. Why shouldn’t networking be a required course for anyone who hopes to make a mark in the world of business? Why shouldn’t all of us had to learn how to be an effective networker as part of our curriculum?
What do you think about the need for networking courses in our colleges and universities? And, what about Misner’s assertion that many business professors are out of touch with the real skills that need to be taught to aspiring entrepreneurs?