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This is a difficult question. Networking is a very delicate balancing act because you need to put enough pressure on to get an informational interview, but not so much that the person you are trying to network with gets annoyed. While you'll have to be the one to ultimately decide how persistent to be, here are a few guidelines:

  • If you do not get a response to your first email, wait two weeks and try again
  • Don't try cold-emailing the same person more than 3 times, at that point you're just wasting your time
  • If you receive a response that says the person will get back to you by a certain date and they don't follow up, wait two business days after the stated date to follow up.
  • If your contact misses a meetup, email or call immediately to let them know you were there and you'd like to reschedule if possible. Be very polite, these people are extremely busy and going out of their way to help you.
  • Do not spam a group or firm. If you email everyone in a firm with the same message, you may annoy some people and hurt your chances.
  • If you're making cold-calls, don't call the same firm and/or desk over and over trying to get through to someone. You will piss someone off, especially if you're calling a trader in the middle of the day while he's trying to work.
  • You know when you're being obnoxious. Back off a little.

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