How to Navigate an MBA Event, Fair or Forum

So you have signed up and registered to attend an event, fair or forum where representatives from MBA programs across the world will be eager to meet you, but you are unsure of exactly how to prepare.  Don’t stress – the preparation is not difficult, but it is necessary to understand a few things in order to appropriately navigate your way through the occasion.  Here are 5 helpful tips for a maximizing an MBA event experience and leaving a lasting impression:

  1. Dress professionally.   Before you utter your first word, the first thing a school representative will notice is how you are dressed.  If you have to question it, you probably should try another option.  Business professional is appropriate attire for an MBA event.  For men, a well-pressed shirt, tie and jacket would be ideal and for women, a business suit or suit separates would be appropriate. It is also important to be well groomed: clean shaven for men and well-manicured for women!
  2. Introduce yourself.  Greet each table representative with strong eye contact, a warm smile and a firm handshake, unless an alternative greeting is culturally preferred (i.e. a bow in Japan/Korea). Non-verbal communication is just as important as what you say, so be sure to greet each table professionally and confidently as you engage a representative in conversation. We understand, not every candidate is an extrovert, but you should be able to begin each connection with a strong introduction.
  3. Research programs.  You want to be knowledgeable about the programs that made your prospective B School list.  This is a great opportunity to impress the representative with your knowledge of his/her program. You will want to get beyond the generic “what are your admissions requirements” and take advantage of being able to talk with someone in a little more detail than the standard class profile, statistics, tuition structure programs publicize on their websites. And, as you challenge yourself to maximize your fair experience, seek out a few schools which you did not intend to visit and be up-front with the representative that you are unfamiliar with their program, but would be interested to learn more – especially if a representative has sparked your curiosity on a panel or during an information session!
  4. Include your resume.  Come prepared with copies of your resume and business cards, but do not read it to the representative.  You want to be able to highlight some of your attributes, but you also want to use these events to engage in meaningful conversation.  Schools will be able to refer back to your resume and business cards for follow-up.  It is a good way for the schools to remember those candidates they met at events and walk away with something about you.
  5. Follow-up.  Be sure to take the business card and contact information of the representatives you speak with.  This will allow for easier follow up after the event if you have additional questions, or if you simply want to thank them for taking the time to talk with you.  (We do have egos and it is ok to stroke them :) ).  You can also use this as an opportunity to remind the representatives of who you are and express your continued interest in programs.  We want to hear from you, so do not by shy. It could even result in a special invitation to campus, an application fee waiver and strong admissions consideration – it is representative of how you will treat future employers on job interviews!

Remember that every interaction you have with a representative matters and leaves an impression.  In many cases, an MBA event, fair or forum will be the first interaction you have with a school.  Taking note of these few things can help make a great first impression as well as learn as much information as possible about your programs of interest. Our W&M MBA Admissions Team looks forward to meeting you on the road and praising your professionalism and strong first impression!

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Randy Tripp

Randy currently serves as the Associate Director of MBA Admission for the Mason School. After graduating from William & Mary with his Bachelor of Science Degree in Kinesiology in 2005, Randy worked in the Undergraduate Admission Office at William & Mary for 5 years. After being away from W&M for a year and a half, he returned to the Mason School in May 2012 to serve in his current role.

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