From Tim Cook to Ray Dalio and Sheryl Sandberg , the long list of leading executives with MBAs to their names can make business school seem like the fast track to success.
At 86 percent, the employment rate for MBA graduates is among the highest of any field of study, according to a 2017 Statista study .
But gone are the days when scoring your place, paying your fees and completing your studies were enough to guarantee your dream job. With social media playing an increasing role in the workplace, you now have to make sure you prove yourself as a future business leader in your online presence too.
LinkedIn LNKD is central to that, according to Chris Reed, founder and CEO of Black Marketing, who said that's where many MBA grads could be letting themselves down.
"People will Google you and find your profile. If it's incomplete, no amount of MBA will save you in terms of how you progress," Reed told CNBC Make It.
He set up his advisory business, which is independent of LinkedIn, in 2015 to help business leaders and entrepreneurs use the network to boost their careers. But business schools, such as the National University of Singapore and Hong Kong University, are now coming to him to look for advice on how to help their MBA grads use the platform to take their careers to the next step.
"These schools get me in because people are graduating and they still don't know how to use LinkedIn," said Reed.
He said it takes only three short steps.
1. Update your profile
It may sound simple, but first off, make sure your LinkedIn page is complete — with a professional photo and background image, and up-to-date education and experience, said Reed. Be sure to state clearly that you're a recent MBA grad looking for work in your chosen field.
Complete the summary, which should use as many available characters as possible, and include information about your MBA and why you're worth more now than you were before. It should also feature your education and work experience, including side projects or non-profit work.
It doesn't matter if there's repetition here with other parts of your profile, said Reed. It will help prove to Google that your profile is genuine and cause it to rank more highly in searches.
2. Get posting
Next, get active and start sharing content regularly to get on people's radars. That can be anything from original posts to articles, photos and videos, as long as they have a "business context," Reed said.
According to the 1-9-90 rule , it's thought that for every 100 social media users, just one percent are original content creators, while nine percent are advocates — those who will like, comment and share. The remaining 90 percent are simply observers. That model is often used by those wishing to target their social media audience more effectively.
To be recognized as a future leader, you need to make sure you're in that top one percent, said Reed.
"You have a choice: Do you want to be the one percent, who are leaders; the nine percent, who are followers; or the 90 percent, who do nothing but are voyeurs?"
Know the 4-1-1
When posting on social media — particularly a professional platform — there is, however, a fine line between being active and spamming your connections' news feeds.
To strike the right balance, Reed suggested a social media strategy, known as the 4-1-1 rule, which was coined by Andrew Davis, author of "Brandscaping." It says that for every one self-serving piece of content you share, you should also post one educational piece and four other pieces that your network will find interesting.
For an MBA grad, that translates to one "hard sell" post, which relates directly to you and your MBA; one "soft sell" post, which is more educational and displays your leadership abilities; and four general pieces that your network may find useful.
"The four is key because it's what brings people in and makes people sticky and makes people follow you and makes people connect with you," Reed said.
"They're also much more likely to see the MBA content and engage with it as a result of the four than if you just purely post about your MBA," he said.
Those posts don't have to take any particular order, Reed said, suggesting that new users should aim to post twice a day — on the way to and from the office, which is when most people are likely to check their feeds.
3. Connect with alumni
The final step is all about building up your network and creating career opportunities. Here, you should be ruthless, said Reed.
He recommended connecting with all alumni from your MBA, as well as any internship or work colleagues. It should also include a personal note referencing your shared experience and suggesting that you meet for coffee.
"What that does is, it builds up your network, it personalizes, it builds an instant personal connection," said Reed. "If you reach out for someone with a particular goal in mind you won't waste anyone's time."
"It works with Google, it works with Apple AAPL , it works with NUS, it works with anywhere there's a big community and people feel responsible for each other and feel a sense of camaraderie," he said.
Reed, whose previous three jobs prior to Black Marketing came about via networking, said that can often be the key to getting your name out there and finding new job opportunities.
"A lot of jobs are not advertised — that's where the networking comes in," he continued. "If you've got an MBA, a lot of it is about you and your personality, your experience, what you can offer somebody."
"That's what networking's about. If you're intelligent and you're bright, people will find a place for you."
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