By Richard Moy
Reprinted with permission
If you are searching for an executive-education course that will foster networking opportunities in addition to the actionable knowledge you are seeking to build, ask yourself these three questions as you sort through all your options.
Does your course foster a group-based learning environment?
Typical executive education courses operate on some combination of lectures, exercises, and an interactive group-based learning environment. In the event that you’re looking to acquire a new skill with a limited amount of time, a course that relies heavily on lectures and/or reading material and allows you to learn at your own pace is a great option. However, if you’re looking to network with business leaders who have faced similar challenges as you have, take a hard look at executive-education courses that prioritise group-based interaction and growth.
As the article above also points out, these group-based learning environments also lend themselves to smaller networks. Before you make any assumptions about the drawbacks of potentially fewer networking opportunities, it’s important to remember that relationships you’ll build in a group-based executive-education course will be more focused on shared goals and may actually be more useful over the long haul.
Is there professional diversity among participants?
Professionals looking to enroll in an executive-education course are often looking for a fresh perspective on familiar challenges. Executive-education courses that appeal to leaders across multiple industries are likely to offer precisely such an array of alternative perspectives, which makes for an excellent variety of networking opportunities.
Of course, leaders from within your field will have plenty to contribute to a conversation. However, a classroom full of professionals who bring perspectives from a variety of industries can fuel eye-opening conversations and shed new light on the challenges and opportunities you’re encountering. Seth Godin describes innovation to Entrepreneur as taking something that worked over there and using it over here. The article also continues by pointing out that Henry Ford’s idea for an assembly line was actually born out of a lesson he learned from a meatpacking facility. Be brave when selecting an executive-education course, especially if you’re looking to network, and consider courses where a handful of industries are well represented.
Can any of your existing contacts refer you to courses?
A quick search for “executive education networking” turns up seemingly promising course descriptions from a wide variety combination of leading business schools and institutes. Sifting through the noise of options can be a daunting task. Why not pair your research with personal insight from people you trust?
Much like you would when deciding on other professional opportunities, don’t be afraid to ask for references from colleagues or reach out to people who have taken a course you’re considering.
About the author:
Richard Moy is a freelance writer who covers a variety of education-related topics for The Economist Careers Network's blogs.