After graduation, networking will continue to bring personal and professional rewards MANY MBA graduates maintain that networking with other aspiring high-fliers is one of the most important benefits of spending one or two years at business school. When choosing a programme, therefore, it is important to consider not only the programme's faculty and course content but also the types of students the programme attracts. Another consideration is whether the programme has an active alumni association that would help ensure that your circle of contacts - professional and personal - will continue to grow after you graduate. 'Networking is one of the important aspects in our MBA programme, as we believe the depth of the MBA student's network will enhance their career in the future,' said Veronica Chan, general manager, the Henley Management College. 'We encourage students not just to network during their study but to continue with this contact, and strengthen their network by contributing to alumni activities.' All students receiving an MBA from the school automatically become members of the Henley International Alumni network on graduation. The body has more than 10,000 members around the world. 'In Hong Kong, the Henley Alumni organises regular talks to update the members' business knowledge and give them more understanding of topical issues. By doing so, they extend their networking beyond their fellow students,' Ms Chan said. 'At the same time, these events are social and enjoyable activities.' The Richard Ivey School of Business has more than 27,000 alumni around the world, with an active network of more than 400 alumni in Hong Kong. Events run from happy hours to case nights to annual dinners. Kathleen Slaughter, executive director, Ivey Asia, said alumni were a key factor in the business school's ongoing success. 'Without offering activities to engage alumni, we lose not only a valuable source of information on new cases and new trends in business, but also speakers for classes, recruiters for graduates and 'raving fans',' she said. 'We have life e-mail addresses so alumni can find one another just by knowing the individual's year of graduation.' Students of the MBA in International Management, offered jointly by the University of London and the University of Hong Kong's School of Professional and Continuing Education (HKU SPACE), have access to an even larger international network. 'During their study, our MBA students will join a worldwide club of 30,000 students who study externally with the university,' said programme course director Raymond Yeung. 'They have been connected through our World Wide Web Learning Community, which is an excellent network for our future graduates to meet friends around the world.' Membership in the recently established HKU SPACE Alumni offers graduates the added benefit of building local networks with graduates in other disciplines. The benefits of an active alumni association have not been lost on the China Education Group, which administers the University of Iowa's executive MBA programme in Hong Kong. 'With more students graduating from our programme, we plan to form an alumni association aimed at supporting, promoting and celebrating the mission, vision, core values and traditions of the University of Iowa,' said Tony Hui Tsan-hing, programme director, executive education, the China Education Group. Activities will include business programmes emphasising professional development and personal growth, talks by distinguished speakers, panel discussions on topical issues, and social events aimed at strengthening members' professional development.