We’re slowly moving into the part of the season where the schools are focused on outreach to potential applicants, and where BSers planning to apply this year should be making school research a priority. While we still say your very best effort is to actually GO VISIT the schools – and, HEY! April is a great time for that!!! – there is also tremendous value to participating in the online events that will start popping up with greater frequency.
Today we’ll offer some tips for how to make the most of an MBA chat (and some warnings of how not to mess things up).
1. How do you find out about the chats? Register on the website for the schools you’re interested in. (How do you manage the flood of emails you’ll be receiving as a result? Do so with a dedicated MBA email account.) If your target school does not have such a “register” function (which most do these days, but you may have to search for it) then they probably publish a list of events, so find that page on their site and bookmark it, and put a reminder in your calendar to go back and check it every few weeks.
2. When a notice about a chat comes in, open it up and read it right away – and register for the chat immediately if it requires advance registration, and if you know you’ll attend. It’s not the end of the world if you sign up for a chat and then don’t show up for it, but you shouldn’t make a habit of it (and this is not the same as registering for an in-person session or coffee chat; if you register for those, you must go, or un-RSVP yourself).
Why should you register right when you receive the email? For two reasons: a) because sometimes they have capacity limits and they fill up, or they close registration the day before and so if you wait till the last minute, you won’t be able to join, and b) so that you don’t forget about it. It sucks going back to an email for a chat you really wanted to attend, to discover that it happened yesterday.
3. Enter the chat into your calendar – converting to your local timezone – and include the URL for the chat in your calendar entry too. You don’t want to be scrambling to figure out how to get into the chat if you’re running late that day.
If it’s a Twitter or Facebook chat, then include the direct URL to the school’s feed in your calendar item, and include any hashtag they’re using. So, for Booth MBA on Twitter, it would probably be https://twitter.com/BoothFullTime (NOT @ChicagoBooth which is the feed for the whole school and NOT @BoothEveWknd which is their part-time program, even though they have their own chats which are also often usefull). When the chat is live, Booth usually uses the hashtag #BoothMBA which is another way to easily track the action.
Another reason to register and schedule it right away is that oftentimes, schools end up scheduling chats for the same time. They don’t coordinate calendars amongst themselves. It’s up to you to make sure there are no conflicts.
4. At the same time you’re scheduling yourself for the chat, go to that URL on the device you intend to participate from (latop, phone, iPad, whatever) and check out the system requirements. Many schools use plugins for their chats and sometimes they require Flash or Java, and you need to make sure your device can handle it. Go through whatever test sequence they might have. Download/update/pray to the proper gods with a sacrifice under moonlight in advance to make sure that you’ll be able to join the chat easily at the time it goes live. Most schools these days have decent tech running their chats but there are still some exceptions, and it’s beyond frustrating to try to join a chat that’s already started when your system is chugging through some type of software configuration step.
5. Set a reminder on your calendar entry just like you would for any other important meeting.
Just like we blahgged about back in February: Making a priority of your personal-improvement projects, and not blowing things off that your FUTURE SELF will benefit from, in favor of your NOW SELF’s laziness or poor planning, is the best way to advance your life and progress towards your goals, and to change.
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