As the world continues to grapple with the spread of coronavirus, more of us are being tasked with staying home in isolation.
And for those of us with upcoming plans, social distancing has meant event cancellations and the move from face-to-face to virtual, online interactions.
If you’ve been planning on attending an MBA tour event where you would have had the chance to engage with school admissions reps and other MBA candidates in person, you may be wondering, how do I make an impression during a virtual MBA tour event?
1. Dress your best
It can be tempting to dress casually for an event that you won’t leave the house for but don’t make that mistake.
Dressing the part will help you conjure up the atmosphere of what this type of event entails when it is face-to-face. And looking your best will help to boost your confidence. Should the event have a video component, you’ll be glad you dressed like the business professional expected at these types of events.
2. Check your video and audio
Before the event even starts, check that your video and audio are working properly.
Not only should you be able to see the presentation and the presenters, but you’ll also want to make sure that if there is time to ask questions or get any one-on-one facetime with a school representative, that you can do so without difficulty.
3. Prepare questions
Do your research beforehand on the questions you want to ask. You’ll think of more things to ask during the event, but before you get there, you’ll want to know who will be attending and what the format of the event will be.
This can help you prepare the right questions for the right time. Some things to consider while you prepare questions:
Do your homework: Don’t ask questions that are already answered on schools’ admissions sites or could easily be answered with a Google search.
Be intentional: Don’t ask questions just for the sake of asking questions.
Convey your goals: Think of questions that get at what may be inspiring you about a school’s programs and how it might relate to your future career goals.
Remember the event’s purpose: Don’t ask questions that prompt an admissions rep to “sell” their school to you. Remember this is more of an information session to help you make decisions about the schools you might be interested in, so while you might be in a position to ask these kinds of questions later, this type of event isn’t the time.
Be memorable: Think of a unique question that will help to get the admissions rep to remember you.
4. Rehearse your elevator pitch and define your goals
An admissions rep may ask you questions to get a sense of your fit for their program.
Having a 30-second pitch that explains why you want to pursue your graduate business degree and shows a concrete grasp of your goals during and post-MBA will let reps know you’re serious and that you’re a competitive candidate.
5. Take advantage of pre-event content
While you prepare your questions and do your research, you’ll also want to check out any pre-event content that may be available.
Each event is different, but some include videos and presentations that can be watched before the event and can give you an overview of what to expect before you get to any of the ‘timed’ content.
6. Practice respectful online etiquette
Virtual interactions can be awkward. Without the benefit of being face-to-face, it’s easy to accidentally talk over someone or miss unsaid social cues, like facial expressions or body language. Here are some simple things to keep in mind:
Stay positive: Keep things upbeat and you’ll make a better impression. Remember that everyone is doing their best to manage the virtual environment, and many of the school representatives and attendees may be participating in a virtual event for the first time. Show patience and it will reflect well on you.
Do your best to avoid speaking over others: It’s sometimes easier said than done, but be courteous about jumping in to speak. If you and someone else try to speak simultaneously, a good approach is to allow them to speak, and make clear that you would like to speak next.
Don’t despair if you can’t get a word in edgewise: Understand going into the event that you may not get the opportunity to speak as much as you would like to, or much at all. Don’t let this discourage you. Rest assured that you will have plenty of other opportunities to engage directly with admissions staff in the future.
7. Get camera ready
We’ve already talked about dressing for success and checking your video and audio equipment, but let’s talk about your on-camera presence.
You might get nervous talking to admissions reps face-to-face and video may be no different. Keep in mind not rush what you’re saying, speak clearly, and if possible, make ‘eye-contact.’
8. After the event
Meeting a school representative at an event is only the beginning of your interactions and relationship with them.
After you’ve had a chance to introduce and ‘pitch’ yourself, ask for their contact information. The rule of thumb is to send a thank-you email within 24 hours of meeting.
In your email you can identify yourself, thank them again for their time, and tell them you want to stay in touch. After that you’ll want to maintain the conversation through the application process. After social distancing is over, you should also consider visiting the campus and speaking with current students and alumni.
Get ready during your social distancing
Things are changing quickly in the world and we’re all doing our best to adapt to the current situation.
More events that would normally have taken place in-person will be moved online until the coronavirus spread settles down. Until then, you can prepare while you practice your social distancing and put your best foot forward as you attend virtual MBA tour events.
Create an mba.com account today for resources on what to do after your MBA Tour event.
This article by Joanmarie Foster was originally published on mba.com. Start your graduate management education journey at www.mba.com by connecting to business schools, information, and tools to help you achieve your business school goals.