Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The importance of networking - or how parties are part of the curriculum

Up to last week, I had succeeded in maintaining a good balance between work, fun, and sport. The last week-end has caused havoc in my well-greased organisation, and now I am getting a little behind in everything but fun.

The best reason to explain this is that pace is now mad for everything, ie. it is not me slowing down, but the rhythm speeding up!

Take parties. We used to have one scheduled every day of the week -not counting private house dinners. Now we often have 2 running the same night!
Tonight is bad example though, since only Eyes Wide Shut party is on.
I believe that this party culture is so entrenched in INSEAD because of the remoteness of Fontainebleau, sure, but also because we only have one year to know each other. In the same spirit, houses host "random" guest dinners, or guest from other sections, to enlarge the network and make sure we don't miss each other.

You see, I really get the importance of networking here. Network with section, network with co-nationals, network within industry. It is more than making friends. Actually, probably very few people will stay lifelong friends. But most of them would help in some way.

On Monday, we had great insights from alumni entrepreneurs. All of them concurred in the following: at some point, networking was key in their business - one MBA04J because he launched his venture with a fellow INSEAD student, and one who got all his key contacts through friends' friends or contacts.
Other key takeaways from the conference: don't try to make the difference with the "great idea" but with great execution, choose high growth/high margins sectors, fail or succeed but don't lose your time in the middle, and don't hedge your bets, just go for it.

Take classes.
Some courses have really reached the upper limit in terms of what individuals can digest before overstuffing.
For instance, Prices and Markets, definitely a most interesting subject taught admirably, has reached its peak. One reason why the peak is past us, is the Wharton letdown. We were all getting so excited about the Game held at Wharton and INSEAD (Fonty and Singapore), but Wharton gave up after 2 rounds, for technical reasons, and misunderstandings between Professors and students over there. Consequently we all started over on Monday, yet at that point the fun was gone...

Take sports.
Although I am still a serious sports addict, I have dropped a couple of activities. Rugby has become too tough for me, as the big guys are the only one left. Still a couple of Asians showing up, but more as a constant reminder that the game can be physical (ouch!).


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