How to Accumulate "Soft Skills" to Complement Your MBA

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Professional success as an MBA depends on a variety of factors. In addition to developing the necessary technical and professional skills, it's important that you learn and use various soft skills to stand out from the crowd. Strive to develop the following skills as you complete your MBA coursework, and you'll be ahead of the game.

Effective Networking

Learning how to broaden your professional network is one of the most vital soft skills for both new and seasoned MBAs. Successful networking will build your career by exposing you to more and more people and businesses who are working toward similar goals. Any one of these connections may introduce you to your next big opportunity. Networking involves finding those individuals and companies who inspire and uplift you. Visit networking groups in your chosen career focus, both in person and online. Also be sure to connect one-on-one with professors and older students who may serve as mentors throughout your career.

Money Management

It's always smart to start with your own finances. When you have a handle on your own money, including saving and investing, you exude confidence and financial expertise, reduce personal stress, and give yourself the freedom to focus your time and energy on building your career. Carefully managing your money also means that you won't find yourself mired in debt after graduation and will be able to plan and achieve financial goals, such as buying a home or starting a business.

How to Negotiate

Before long, you'll have your degree and be searching for a job as an MBA. In order to land a great offer, it's critical that you have some negotiating skills under your belt. The trick to gaining confidence in negotiations is to practice. See what works and what doesn't, and remember – negotiating involves compromise, which is something you'll also need when working among colleagues and supervisors in an office and while collaborating on group projects.

Goal Setting and Time Management

Knowing how to set goals and manage your time will take you far in life. Goal setting is crucial, because it ensures you stay focused on getting what you want out of your career without getting distracted by obstacles. By establishing goals you wish to accomplish and plotting the steps you need to take to achieve them, you create a roadmap for yourself that you can adjust along the way.

Time management goes hand-and-hand with setting goals. It is difficult to reach your goals if you don't have enough time to get everything done. Like goal setting, time management requires that you list what needs to get done, but it goes a step further. You must learn to prioritize and put the most important tasks at the top of your to-do list, then do them in an efficient manner. Effective time management also means not wasting time with activities that don't contribute to your goals, like watching too much television!

Avoid Burnout

As a busy MBA student and potential job seeker, avoiding burnout is one of your most challenging and necessary tasks. With continual coursework, studying for and taking exams, and the inevitable responsibilities in life, there can be little room for physical and mental rejuvenation. It's important to realize, however, that "burnout" can result in losing more time and energy in the long run. Take time for short breaks while studying and plan an hour or two once a week to relax and just "be." Scheduling this time will open you up to intuitive thoughts and uninhibited mental processing that will make you an even better student, employee, and person.

Accumulating the necessary soft skills that complement your MBA may take some time and commitment, but the result of being a more well-rounded professional is worth the effort.


Written by Ashford University staff.

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