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From observing the general population in America, I've come to the conclusion that most people are awful at networking. The vast majority of people in this country, especially those who are students or newly entering the workforce, simply don't understand how important one's network of contacts is for their careers. And furthermore, if they do realize its importance, they do nothing about it.

I see this all the time at my college. Most people carry a very traditional mindset: work hard, get good grades, graduate, and the rest will fall into place. Not in this day and age, and certainly not in this economy.

So then you have the folks who have read Never Eat Alone, or have a better understanding of how the world really works, and then proceed to "network." But even then, most of them fail miserably. Usually it's for two reasons...

1) They'll meet people at conferences, they'll meet alumni, and they'll get introduced to potential opportunity-makers, but they won't follow up after the initial meeting.

2) They'll follow up, but they'll be unaware of the dynamics of the relationship, and expect to get much more than they put in.

Following up is easy. We have so many methods of communication today-- you can call them, send them an email, write them a letter, etc.

The second thing is harder to correct, and it requires a huge mental shift. There was recently a thread where a potential analyst was outraged that an MD he had been networking with didn't help secure him an interview. Truth be told, if I was the MD, I would've been even less helpful.

It's incredible to see kids that are brilliant in their Econ majors, and are looking to capitalize on capitalism, who don't understand the economics of human behavior. Human beings respond to incentives. Yes, the people higher up have a duty to recruit... but trust me, you need them much more than they need you.

What you have to do is build a genuine relationship. Instead of calling once or twice a month, take them out for drinks or lunch, and get to know them as people. Send them emails with random articles they might be interested in. Find out if they run or play a sport, and challenge them to a game during their free time.

Genuine relationships cannot be faked. I've found highly successful bankers to be incredibly high-EQ people-- after all, it takes a lot of people skills to get up in the world. Instead of seeing network as a means to an end, see it as the end. The analysts and MDs I've taken out are some of the funniest, most down-to-earth people I've ever met. Trust me, if they see you as someone who genuinely likes them, they'll help you out in ways you could never imagine.

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Comments (59)

  • SirTradesaLot's picture

    I've never understood why so many people on this site think that cold-calling someone and asking for a job = networking. Not that I think it's bad to cold-call for a job, but let's not pretend that it's networking.

    adapt or die:
    What would P.T. Barnum say about you?

    MY BLOG

  • WTFinance's picture

    Great post. I've always had the impression that if I would contact someone to network, it'd better be about work/career; I didn't want to make them feel like I was wasting their time on frivolous things. You make a lot of more sense though. Gonna pick up a copy of that book. +SB

  • target for life's picture

    I've noticed the easiest way to network is just to simply attend the right school. You get to meet the most relevant people, in the most relevant positions and probably have to make the least amount of effort to do anything - a.k.a. maximize efficiency.

    As far as following up, I think that is simply a function of proximity and time. The easier you can meet someone face to face and the more time they have - the easier it is to follow up. Especially when meeting with 100s of different people. That is too costly both in terms of time and money.

  • leveragealltheway's picture

    It's about damn time someone wrote a post like this. I shake my head every time I hear someone say I cold called and emailed but got no help. NO SHIT! My god, if you go through your whole life relying solely on the kindness of strangers the world will hit you hard. A relationship is never just business, its always highly personal. Maybe I was blessed and able learn early on to communicate intelligently with older people at my father's work parties but by the time you graduate college (unless you sat in a dark room all day) you should know how to make people like you as a person. Its not that difficult.

    My 3 rules for networking

    1) Smile. Its puts people at ease.
    2) Dont take shit too seriously, laugh at jokes (make a few of your own)
    3) LISTEN MORE THAN YOU TALK. If they want to know more about you they will ask. This usually comes after they realized that you're pretty fucking awesome and they want you to marry their daughter.

    "The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts." - Bertrand Russell

  • yeahright's picture

    Once you meet in person, you are on the right level of networking. Getting a beer, lunch, attending an event... thats when you know you are in good shape. Emailing back and forth is rubbish. Talking on the phone is getting there.

    Frank Sinatra - "Alcohol may be man's worst enemy, but the bible says love your enemy."

  • In reply to leveragealltheway
    Cmoss's picture

    leveragealltheway:
    ...3) LISTEN MORE THAN YOU TALK. If they want to know more about you they will ask. This usually comes after they realized that you're pretty fucking awesome and they want you to marry their daughter.

    So true!

  • skylinegtr94's picture

    Great post. Nothing beats face to face. Another example I have for misapplied initiative is when undergrads or those currently job seeking attend a conference or networking event with RESUMES IN HAND. Good thought but wrong application in that setting.

    One tip our team talks about a lot is, when staying connected with people, to always bring value to the conversation (basically was said in original post like sharing an article in their industry, sports team or alma mater).

  • Bobb's picture

    Many need to stop looking it as "networking" and usng it to get a job right now. It is about building a career long relationship where you can work off each other for years to come.

  • Pwntatoes's picture

    Best advice I have heard is:

    "Network when you don't have to. So when you need the oven it's already pre-heated"

    "Honey can you please pass the mashed pwntatoes"

  • Abhi7's picture

    But how would that work if I don't live near the banker/alumni etc.?

  • southern tide's picture

    Solid post. I think the more analysis that is done on this subject makes it seem more and more unnecessarily complicated. DId you read a book before making new friends in college? Did you pore over websites before joining a club freshman year to learn how to talk to other members? Did you ask every one of your fraternity/sorority friends how to socialize before rushing? "Networking" seems to have this special business connotation but it's essentially building relationships with people.

    And think about the conversation your networking contact will have with his/her boss when trying to get you an interview. Do you think it is filled with: "He sent me a follow up email right at 24 hours after we met!" "She's called me right on the dot every Tuesday as she promised!" "She initiated the conversation at just the right point during the event" "Her 'elevator speech' was spot-on...I can tell she's been brushing up with the OCR! Or: "I can see this guy genuinely fitting in here. He's down to earth, pretty laid back, and didn't try to hard to impress me. Let's see how he does in an interview."

  • In reply to Pwntatoes
    adapt or die's picture

    Pwntatoes:
    Best advice I have heard is:

    "Network when you don't have to. So when you need the oven it's already pre-heated"

    Dumb advice, you should always be networking

    You need to network over alcohol. I cannot stress this enough. People who I've met for drinks have been much more receptive to helping out than others. Meeting people face to face is not enough although it's a must. You need to push the issue on getting drinks with people when you ping them. Even if the person you contact is older than you, it can give them an opportunity to get away from their wife for a few hours at the bar. And if the person is near your age (analyst/associate) try to go out and get completely fucked up with them.

  • In reply to adapt or die
    Cmoss's picture

    adapt or die][quote=Pwntatoes:
    Best advice I have heard is:

    "Network when you don't have to. So when you need the oven it's already pre-heated"

    Dumb advice, you should always be networking

    quote]

    I ready his advice as always be networking, or did i miss something?

  • In reply to Cmoss
    UFOinsider's picture

    Cmoss][quote=adapt or die:
    Pwntatoes:
    Best advice I have heard is:

    "Network when you don't have to. So when you need the oven it's already pre-heated"

    Dumb advice, you should always be networking

    quote]

    I ready his advice as always be networking, or did i miss something?


    Adapt or die was out boozing and networking?

    Get busy living

  • Mike McDermott's picture

    I've been waiting for this thread, SB to you. I'm at a UK target and so many kids here go to all the networking events and chat with a couple analysts, asking one scripted question after another trying to impress. They leave with a card and maybe follow up with a question about recruitment. Never goes anywhere and a few months later they're going round saying "Oh, networking doesn't really help all that much."

    The people I know with networks that really add value know how to relax at a networking event and chat to an analyst like they would anyone else, find mutual interests, invite them out to another bar afterwards to show them a good time while they're in town. Those are the guys who an analyst will actually go to bat for when it comes to recruiting.

  • shoeless's picture

    Some decent advice in this thread. Most importantly you need to be yourself and let things evolve from there. The comments about alcohol are fair to a point... yes, alcohol can smooth some conversations out, but the last thing I want to do is spend an hour drinking beers with some knucklehead 22 year-old before hopping on the train for an hour commute home. If you've got the right stuff, you typically won't need the alcohol to smooth things out. Man-up, focus on being confident, and when you get uncomfortable, suppress it. Then just talk like a man or woman to the person across from you.

  • mikesswimn's picture

    I really enjoyed this post. SB for OP. I especially loved,

    HowardRoark:
    Yes, the people higher up have a duty to recruit... but trust me, you need them much more than they need you.

    and
    HowardRoark:
    Genuine relationships cannot be faked.

    If you want to distill it down, "networking" as an adult is analogous to "making friends" as a child. People help out their friends before that guy they get a cursory email from once every quarter.

    "My caddie's chauffeur informs me that a bank is a place where people put money that isn't properly invested."

  • ATrad's picture

    Everything said is true, but being extremely "happy faced" or being everytime smiling to the new guy you have met, may make you looks like a stupid person with no personality.

    I'm tired of seeing people doing this, it's too fake, and the guy in the other side knows it, or he/she should know it if is intelligent enough.

    The most important thing is to be yourself, open minded to new ways of thinking and personalities very different or opposed to yours, but with you can fit. Not being yourself, being always agreed with what the other says or think, won't help you to make a great impression about your skills or your ability to defend your thoughts.

    Network as much as you can, but don't make yourself looks like a desperate guy.

  • stackerquad's picture

    Would an email with a relevant article actually be useful to a professional? I'd assume they'd have already read anything I as a student can find...

  • eric328's picture

    The new cold calling is cold messaging on LinkedIn premium. Hopefully you get a hit eventually with an MD if you send out a well played message. Get a phone call scheduled, follow up, ask about his kids and etc. Get the interview and the replay the process. Maybe you develop a genuine friend out of this maybe you don't, but if you do this right it ends up working.

  • In reply to adapt or die
    Tiger Z's picture

    How can I fuck up with them as a freshman == I can't even drink.......invite them to my frat?

    Live like an artist and work like an analyst......

  • FrankD'anconia's picture

    I love how this thread slowly evolved into networking = alcohol. lmao

  • 2Shae's picture

    Networking is an art when its all said and done. I've lost some leads being "myself" with people in power positions but I've also gained powerful friends (atleast in my mind), its all in who you click with. I often see guys trying to cater to the mold when networking with someone, its disgusting. From my perspective you've got to be willing to take risk, I stand out amongst the other "carbon copied" guys cause I'm different. I almost go about it as if I forgot they were in the position they're in.

    If you can't kill them with kindness, just kill them.

  • cujo.cabbie's picture

    What if you ask about their life/career and they go straight into what you should do to get in/talk about sending your CV etc and cut any conversation about life in general? Quite curious as I get a lot of those in banking.

    This thread is awesome though. I landed a internship offer purely on the fact that I 'clicked' with the owners of the firm over the phone and added value even before they recruited me. Amazing.

  • patience's picture

    Preach. What I try to follow is to be "Light, bright, and polite." - Josh Ochs

  • mr.iceman21's picture

    Man, you are a whore, really. You are a prostitute if you think that networking is about "pleasing some MD".... The worst kind of whore, because you do this with other guys! At least if it was a girl... I would take your advice seriously, but with another guy?!?! Meeting and begging him to be your friend?? Don't you have any self respect? Like these kids in movies that "are not popular" and ask "please be my friend Mr footballer?? Maybe life is the US is really like that after all..

    The day when I need to go so low to get a job is going to be the day when the earth becomes flat.

  • In reply to mr.iceman21
    SirTradesaLot's picture

    mr.iceman21:
    Man, you are a whore, really. You are a prostitute if you think that networking is about "pleasing some MD".... The worst kind of whore, because you do this with other guys! At least if it was a girl... I would take your advice seriously, but with another guy?!?! Meeting and begging him to be your friend?? Don't you have any self respect? Like these kids in movies that "are not popular" and ask "please be my friend Mr footballer?? Maybe life is the US is really like that after all..

    The day when I need to go so low to get a job is going to be the day when the earth becomes flat.


    You sir, are an idiot.

    adapt or die:
    What would P.T. Barnum say about you?

    MY BLOG

  • In reply to stackerquad
    no8do's picture

    stackerquad:
    Would an email with a relevant article actually be useful to a professional? I'd assume they'd have already read anything I as a student can find...

    Perhaps but you could make it more interesting as in a conversation/ discussion style. At times I'd brought up some news that was discussed in my finance class, mentioned different good perspectives on the topic and then asked for opinions of the people/ person that I normally network with via regular emails.

  • Hayek's picture

    Great post with some great advice here.

    "Instead of seeing network as a means to an end, see it as the end."

    So, so true.

  • matt-rottman's picture

    First of all, great post! So true. I've been through it, and everything you've said is pure truth.

    Mr.Iceman, clearly you are someone who will NOT be in this industry. Networking is incredibly important, especially since the higher levels are all about relationships. Having technical skills is great, but if you're someone who the group can't be around (Which I'm sure is the case with you), you won't have a job. I've seen guys from a good college network their way into jobs over Harvard honor students. I'm one of them. Anybody can come in as an analyst and build a few models and pitchbooks, but if you're a jerk, nobody will want to spend hours working with you (and with that, will definitely not hire you). Fit is important. But hey, good luck with your current outlook. I hope your parents don't mind supporting you for a long time, because just from your arrogant post, I can tell you that no firm is going to hire you. No worries though, we always need guys to park our cars where I work ;)

  • BTbanker's picture

    I'd like to see a WSO college student demographic to get an idea of how many people on here are at targets/non targets. That way we can know what direction to take threads like these.

  • In reply to matt-rottman
    mr.iceman21's picture

    matt-rottman:
    First of all, great post! So true. I've been through it, and everything you've said is pure truth.

    Mr.Iceman, clearly you are someone who will NOT be in this industry. Networking is incredibly important, especially since the higher levels are all about relationships. Having technical skills is great, but if you're someone who the group can't be around (Which I'm sure is the case with you), you won't have a job. I've seen guys from a good college network their way into jobs over Harvard honor students. I'm one of them. Anybody can come in as an analyst and build a few models and pitchbooks, but if you're a jerk, nobody will want to spend hours working with you (and with that, will definitely not hire you). Fit is important. But hey, good luck with your current outlook. I hope your parents don't mind supporting you for a long time, because just from your arrogant post, I can tell you that no firm is going to hire you. No worries though, we always need guys to park our cars where I work ;)

    Being someone who other people can work with is one thing, being a whore is a completely different one. How many of you were begging the quarter-back to be your friend in high school? It seems true that people dont change after all... "Be friends with the guy because he will help you some day"? Is that really your advice? And what next? Movie nights? a quick blowjob?

    As I said, grow a pair of balls and have a little self respect.

  • GPMagnus's picture

    Great post - here's another SB! You cannot fake genuine interest in a profession or a person, and in my experience 80% of younger people don't even bother putting up the charade (which is useful and at least honest), and of the remaining 20%, the 90% that are faking it can be found out without too much trouble ...

  • wallstdj's picture

    This is a good post. You should always be networking and working on your people skills even if it means going out of your comfort zone.

    Unfortunately, many people are incredibly book smart and score well on tests, but completely lack the basics personality skills that allow us to be comfortable having conversation and creating a relationship with another human being.

  • Rafiki2013's picture

    I had a job "interview" in a bar at three in the morning on a friday night. The guy drunk-fell in love with me and put me in the process.
    LinkedIn also does wonders

    Thanks & regards

  • huanleshalemei's picture

    It's probably easier said than done, but try the following when networking:

    1. Find the right target - someone who has both time and willingness to help, then apply the 20/80 rule;
    2. Be patient - you can't just fetch a busy professional, offer a blowjob and expect an interview right away.

    The Auto Show

  • Fundamentally Undervalued's picture

    here's a problem i've had when trying to build up a network. And i feel like a lot of people have this problem without realizing it (because mostly everybody knows what they need to do to network but fail at it)

    1. i cant remember/keep track of who does what or what i talked to them about, etc. Maybe i have bad memory, but i tend to forget that guy #27 that's in "my network" has a father who is an MD at GS

    2. Alongside that, there are too many people around and too many people that i try to network with, and its hard to build a good relationship (that will payoff when you need it) with 400 people. If the network gets too big, the quality of relationships goes down and they become useless...but keep the network small, and you dont have the right person to call on when the time comes

    I've known people that remember everything about everybody, and consequently have a massive and very developed network. But I seem to be going crazy like a dog that's trying to run after/catch 100 balls that have been thrown at him

    so riddle me that batman

  • bxnxiong's picture

    It will sounds easy to understand that getting to know the reall "people" is far more important than getting a "network" because we would all like to have people know who we are to them rather than being taken as a tool to get or achieve something.But I think it is actually hard to truly do that.Sometimes I just find it hard for me to get along with someone because I don't like the way he or she does.

  • In reply to Fundamentally Undervalued
    CoochieMane's picture

    Fundamentally Undervalued:

    here's a problem i've had when trying to build up a network. And i feel like a lot of people have this problem without realizing it (because mostly everybody knows what they need to do to network but fail at it)

    1. i cant remember/keep track of who does what or what i talked to them about, etc. Maybe i have bad memory, but i tend to forget that guy #27 that's in "my network" has a father who is an MD at GS

    2. Alongside that, there are too many people around and too many people that i try to network with, and its hard to build a good relationship (that will payoff when you need it) with 400 people. If the network gets too big, the quality of relationships goes down and they become useless...but keep the network small, and you dont have the right person to call on when the time comes

    An Excel spreadsheet seems to be exactly what you need.

  • madmoney15's picture

    Solid article OP. Thank you for that.

  • In reply to Rafiki2013
    JYFresh's picture

    rafalvaro:

    I had a job "interview" in a bar at three in the morning on a friday night. The guy drunk-fell in love with me and put me in the process.
    LinkedIn also does wonders

    Did he call you back in the morning?

  • UFOinsider's picture

    HowardRoark:
    It's incredible to see kids that are brilliant in their Econ majors, and are looking to capitalize on capitalism, who don't understand the economics of human behavior.

    This is beautifully stated and applies to so many situations both within and outside of business. Seriously, thank you. In college, a professor once told me "The B students work for the A students, and the C students end up running everything."

    My take on networking is that high EQ people aren't necessarily high IQ people, the two are very very roughly correlated, so it's generally not rocket science to buy someone lunch and actually pay attention to them. Also, networking doesn't need to be in the standard format: for every contact you make over drinks/coffee/whatever, consider people you meet in church, on the subway/Path/whatever, your neighbors, the kid in the coffee shop, etc etc etc, it pays to just be social in general. Figuratively speaking, you never know if that nice old lady's 'bank teller' son is a total baus until you actually strike up a conversation with random people....

    I'm only speaking from my own experience, but the highest yield network contacts are typically people I don't know too well, as familiarity breeds contempt....get close, get along, and then give them space to run their business. Personally, I keep a very broad network of people that I meet in the financial industry, as a bartender, as a small business owner, and as a resident of a very very small town. It's very hard and IMO pointless to maintain a network the way you would a close friendship, and it's very rare that a high maintainance network contact is worth it given busy people don't have time and/or need to be babysat. The old saying is "If you want something done, go to someone who is busy"

    Get busy living

  • BanditPandit's picture

    that's because the world today is filled with toolbags who are only capable at processing, many inadequately. that's what you get when you step in a building, a train, a public area, and see 95% of people staring down or staring at their device without a single clue as to what's happening around them.

    1) send email 2) call 3) send email again is nothing more than a process.

  • StudentLoanBackedSecurity's picture

    SHHH!! Why'd you have to go telling everyone?? Damnit... I am trying to land IBD using this tool. Now if everyone knows the secret, how shall we average-joe's stand out! What thaa %$$%!!

    Im fucking around, super jacked on 5 hour energy and a quadruple espresso. Nice article, so true, I think we all know that.

    "An investment in knowledge pays the best interest." - Benjamin Franklin

  • Wall Street Jungle's picture

    I also recommend everyone to read Never Eat Alone. A fantastic book on networking and relationship-building.

  • In reply to adapt or die
    OutsideMan's picture

    adapt or die:

    Pwntatoes:

    Best advice I have heard is:

    "Network when you don't have to. So when you need the oven it's already pre-heated"

    Dumb advice, you should always be networking

    You need to network over alcohol. I cannot stress this enough. People who I've met for drinks have been much more receptive to helping out than others. Meeting people face to face is not enough although it's a must. You need to push the issue on getting drinks with people when you ping them. Even if the person you contact is older than you, it can give them an opportunity to get away from their wife for a few hours at the bar. And if the person is near your age (analyst/associate) try to go out and get completely fucked up with them.

    This.

    "The cheaper the crook, the gaudier the patter"

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