Finding Executive Education Courses that Provide Networking Opportunities

By Richard Moy

Reprinted with

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

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
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