Have you ever found yourself in a situation where a prospective recommender suddenly appears? What would you do?

Networking opportunities can spontaneously pop up as people tell friends, family, and business associates that they are in the middle of the application process. Friends of your parents will say, ‘I went to school such-and-such! I’ll write a letter!’ Or colleagues at work will mention a contact.

All of these contacts present applicants with the potential to add another letter of support or a positive note to their file. But applicants need to think carefully about who should send in a letter of support.

As many MBA strategy professors have lectured to their classes, ‘It depends. It always depends.’ And they’re right. There is no rule to follow, but there is always an ‘if’ to consider!

A formal letter of support is what we commonly refer to asl a letter sent in addition to your application recommendations by an alum or other supporter of the MBA program. By that we normally mean a very prominent person or an alum who is very involved with the school, not just an alum who graduated 10 years ago but has no connection to current campus life.

A targeted letter of support from someone like this can make all the difference… if you are already in the competitive range for the program. If the letter is the one thing that can tip the scales in your favor. If the letter is from someone who has a track record of engagement with the school. If that person supports only a select few candidates.

You can also ask current students or less illustrious alumni to send a friendly e-mail supporting your application to the MBA admissions committee – if they are comfortable doing so. These types of contacts will help demonstrate your sincere interest in the specific program.

As a now former Associate Director of MBA Admission from NYU once told us, “I loved to see a short e-mail from a student or alum who took the time to send me a ‘look out for Samir! e-mail, and I would start a file for Samir. But would this make a difference in the admissions decision? Only if the applicant was on the border – a waitlist candidate profile.”

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