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Hi guys,

I figured I would give this whole free online advice thing a try and articulate my thoughts on online networking.

In my experience, the success of a "cold call" is largely determined by the communication that precedes it. I've never actually had to "cold call" in the normative sense; every unsolicited phone call I have made has always been preceded by a respective "cold email". As such, this thread is dedicated towards the drafting and sending of those emails.

Keys to a Cold Email

1) Background info - Contact people with a similar background. Don't limit yourself to alumni- think deeper. Think about what defines you on a superificial level. If you go to UCLA and want to work on Wall street, email Cal alums in New York. Williams College? Why not email alums that went to Swarthmore, or any other liberal arts college alum that might have had to teach himself the technicals? Ivy kids- you know what to do. And if you're a non-target... email other non-targets. Simple. The sky is the limit.

Emailing someone with a similar background reminds them of themselves. They are therefore that much more happy to help you. Remember though, you are entitled to nothing, and even if the guy is a complete d-bag, thank them in a dignified manner anyways.

2) Content- Keep the email short and sweet. I usually send emails explaining who I am and what my intentions are, a sentence explaining my "story, and then a graceful thank you. For what it's worth, the whole 'copy and paste' thing has never been a big problem for me at the bulge brackets. For boutiques, target carefully based on the above advice and try not to email too many people. Again, if you target the right demographic, this shouldn't be a problem.

Again, keep in mind that what you're doing essentially amounts to begging. These people have no obligation to help you. As such, unless its a very specific job, I think it's more of a numbers game and wouldn't spend too much time individually tailoring these emails.

3) Timing - http://news.cnet.com/8301-13880_3-9929823-68.html
Here is a link explaining how to send an email at a certain time using Microsoft Outlook. I personally have not tried this yet, but its worth looking into. People might have differing opinions about when the best time to send an email is, but I try to send them 9-10ish in the morning.

Now, what you actually have to do:

1) Create a list of the banks you want to email- Methods include: Search function on this site, google "investment banks [enter city]", Linkedin, etc. Not hard.

2) Locate the email addresses - If they are regional boutiques, chances are the email addresses are on the websites. If not, use the tried and true method of piecing together the email address (john.doe@GS.com) through contact information found on Linkedin. Don't forget alumni databases as well.

3) Send.

4) Remember to follow up - Bankers are busy people. Sometimes they just forget to write back. There is nothing wrong with politely sending up a follow-up email to someone that just didn't get back to you. I usually wait a couple of days to send one, but make sure that when you send this you're actually read to get on the phone. And if they don't respond to that, pick up the phone

Hope this was helpful. Happy to edit this based on user feedback and questions people might have. Will write another section on the actual cold-call conversation part if there is interest. Feel free to PM me with any questions.

Cheers,

21

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Comments (66)

  • Sandhurst's picture

    Well done. The piece about beginning with a cold email is key - a decent part of the time, you'll get an emailed response about setting up a conversation, saving a lot of effort in getting through secretaries on the phone. And even if there is no reply, you have a basis to begin your conversation: "Hello Mr. X, my name is Y - I had reached out to you via email the day before last..."

    Having things in common is key as well, but not just background. A contact of mine who heads a product group at a BB has absolutely nothing in common with me except I interned with an analogous group at a lesser firm that beat him out for a fairly large deal while I was working there. We were able to connect over this alone - I simply mentioned the specific group and firm I was with in the email, and when I called him two days later he said "oh, you were the intern from ABC Co, when you poached XYZ deal. I'm busy this week but let's connect next Thursday."

    "There are three ways to make a living in this business: be first, be smarter, or cheat."

  • nauprillion's picture

    Thanks for posting.
    I have 2 questions:
    1. When should I give them a call. I'm on the trading floor from 6:15am until 7-8pm every day. I don't exactly want to make a call like that in the hallway.
    2. Would you be willing to proof read my email?

  • Relinquis's picture

    Culcet, Good post. A good overview of how to initiate contact with people. It's useful for when you are already at work and want to reach out to people to do business with.

  • bossman's picture

    Pretty good advice.

    Do what you want not what you can!

  • In reply to nauprillion
    Culcet's picture

    nauprillion:
    Thanks for posting.
    I have 2 questions:
    1. When should I give them a call. I'm on the trading floor from 6:15am until 7-8pm every day. I don't exactly want to make a call like that in the hallway.
    2. Would you be willing to proof read my email?

    1) That's interesting. Can you get time off for lunch? You could also try calling bankers in different time zones? Perhaps weekends?

    2) Sure.

  • AlsatianCousin's picture

    Culcet, any examples of those cold e-mails you send out?

    I'm fairly confident in my cold e-mails, but jic.

    Awesome post, man.

  • Culcet's picture

    Alsatian,

    I'd be happy to, but I honestly don't think it would help because the "hook" paragraph is highly individualized towards my personal story and is 99.99% likely to be impertinent towards anyone else's. For what it's worth, I'd be happy to draft a "mock" email template based on details you provide (these don't even have to be real).

  • Culcet's picture

    Just cleaned up my post a bit. Trying to think of a catchy title...

  • In reply to Culcet
    Relinquis's picture

    Culcet:
    Just cleaned up my post a bit. Trying to think of a catchy title...

    Stop changing the title name so people can refer to this thread without getting a broken link.

  • In reply to Relinquis
    Culcet's picture

    Relinquis:
    Culcet:
    Just cleaned up my post a bit. Trying to think of a catchy title...

    Stop changing the title name so people can refer to this thread without getting a broken link.

    My bad. The title stands.

  • In reply to Culcet
    Relinquis's picture

    Culcet:
    Relinquis:
    Culcet:
    Just cleaned up my post a bit. Trying to think of a catchy title...

    Stop changing the title name so people can refer to this thread without getting a broken link.

    My bad. The title stands.


    No problem. I have a feeling lot of people are going to want to refer to this thread.
  • Reloaded's picture

    Better late than never. I'm pretty much in a similar situation : "non-target, subpar GPA, no finance background". I plan on cold-emailing in the future weeks and am hoping for the best.

    Also, a "mock" template email would be of great help, just to get a better idea of the type of information that should/shouldn't be included.

  • In reply to Reloaded
    Sandhurst's picture

    Mat09:
    Better late than never. I'm pretty much in a similar situation : "non-target, subpar GPA, no finance background". I plan on cold-emailing in the future weeks and am hoping for the best.

    Also, a "mock" template email would be of great help, just to get a better idea of the type of information that should/shouldn't be included.

    You might want to move quicker than "future weeks." Superdays are happening.

    "There are three ways to make a living in this business: be first, be smarter, or cheat."

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Financial Modeling Training

IB Templates, M&A, LBO, Valuation + Learn More.

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  • bonks's picture

    Posting to check back later. Awesome information.

    Nothing short of everything will really do.

  • lovepark's picture

    Thanks for the post.

    What do you recommend we put in the Subject line of the email?

  • In reply to lovepark
    Culcet's picture

    lovepark:
    Thanks for the post.

    What do you recommend we put in the Subject line of the email?

    Doesn't matter that much. I usually ask for advice.

  • MonkeySuit's picture

    Hey Culcut,

    great post, very informative. Is there anyway I could PM you my email so you can proof read it? I would really appreciate it.

  • timezone41's picture

    Awesome post. Very informative!

  • kmess024's picture

    Do you think this will work for anyone or is it specific to certain people?

    The Four E's of investment
    "The greatest Enemies of the Equity investor are Expenses and Emotions."- Warren Buffet

  • Onyxcap's picture

    Culcet,

    Can I email you my content for review? I have emailed few people and I actually received one replied yesterday.

    Thanks,
    Onyxcap

  • WTFinance's picture

    wow thanks, i'm definitely going to use some of this advice. i've been cold e-mailing but the response has been less than ideal...

  • ALF.'s picture

    Nice stuff. I'm a rising sophomore at a non-target, I'll be sure to use this.

    Thanks!

  • Culcet's picture

    Wow, that's a lot of comments in one day. Sorry for anyone that's PMed me- been out of pocket (currently traveling).

    I'm happy to review any emails (i.e. let you know what I think of it, whether its too forward, how I would react to it) but I can't really help you write it. This is less because I don't want to help and more because its hard to really "calibrate" the email without knowing more about you, the person you're emailing, and the nature of the relationship. Even if its a complete stranger, I would still need to know what common threads you might have, or at least something random yet compelling that would make someone want to help you. It's a bit hard to do this without revealing personal information about yourself, which you may or may not feel comfortable with. I've helped friends do this, but its because I already knew their "story".

    Another question you probably want to ask yourself is "what do I really want out of this phone call?" Did you miss a resume drop and need a last minute miracle? Or are you cultivating a relationship that hopefully manifests in an internship opportunity a year from now? If its the former- call. If its the latter, there's no need to be frantic, start slow. However, if possible, I would try to send out an email regardless of the likelihood of the person having time to read it and respond. Here's why: if you send one or two emails and the guy doesn't respond, it completely changes the nature of the phone call. The underlying message of the phone call changes from "Hi, I'm some random schmuck that needs your help" to "Hi, you don't know who I am, but I sent you an email that you didn't respond to, so I have the upper hand in this phone call now".

    Re: Actual structure of the email, just make sure it answers the following questions in the least amount of words:

    Who are you? What do you want? Why would someone help you? (Show, not tell).

  • Culcet's picture

    And thanks for the SBs

  • ewlang's picture

    During what upcoming month would you suggest I send out cold emails for the upcoming recruitment season? When is too early/too late? Thanks!

  • In reply to Sandhurst
    alittleextra's picture

    Sandhurst:
    Mat09:
    Better late than never. I'm pretty much in a similar situation : "non-target, subpar GPA, no finance background". I plan on cold-emailing in the future weeks and am hoping for the best.

    Also, a "mock" template email would be of great help, just to get a better idea of the type of information that should/shouldn't be included.

    You might want to move quicker than "future weeks." Superdays are happening.

    Superdays for full time won't start till the first week in august.

  • thepman's picture

    I appreciate you putting this together, especially for people like me who are working on networking in the coming years

  • kmess024's picture

    Do you know if I can use this now to get an internship as a sophmore next year?

    The Four E's of investment
    "The greatest Enemies of the Equity investor are Expenses and Emotions."- Warren Buffet

  • In reply to ewlang
    Culcet's picture

    ewlang:
    During what upcoming month would you suggest I send out cold emails for the upcoming recruitment season? When is too early/too late? Thanks!

    When I send emails I usually ask for "advice", so best would be today.

  • alittleextra's picture

    culcet, you cool if I pm you a sample of what i'm sending out. I'm having terrible response rates. Also, who do you target with these emails. Are we talking 1st/2nd analyst, or directors and MDs

  • Culcet's picture

    Sure.

    Re: Who to email. For bulge brackets, I would recommend sending out a wave to pretty much everyone you can (for getting your first internship, etc.) Thanks to logical email addresses and the wonders of Linkedin, this doesn't take that long at all. I would save the profiling for follow-up emails and calls.

  • In reply to BigCockJerome.
    Culcet's picture

    ryan.stern611:
    Culcet:
    Wow, that's a lot of comments in one day. Sorry for anyone that's PMed me- been out of pocket (currently traveling).

    I'm happy to review any emails (i.e. let you know what I think of it, whether its too forward, how I would react to it) but I can't really help you write it. This is less because I don't want to help and more because its hard to really "calibrate" the email without knowing more about you, the person you're emailing, and the nature of the relationship. Even if its a complete stranger, I would still need to know what common threads you might have, or at least something random yet compelling that would make someone want to help you. It's a bit hard to do this without revealing personal information about yourself, which you may or may not feel comfortable with. I've helped friends do this, but its because I already knew their "story".

    Another question you probably want to ask yourself is "what do I really want out of this phone call?" Did you miss a resume drop and need a last minute miracle? Or are you cultivating a relationship that hopefully manifests in an internship opportunity a year from now? If its the former- call. If its the latter, there's no need to be frantic, start slow. However, if possible, I would try to send out an email regardless of the likelihood of the person having time to read it and respond. Here's why: if you send one or two emails and the guy doesn't respond, it completely changes the nature of the phone call. The underlying message of the phone call changes from "Hi, I'm some random schmuck that needs your help" to "Hi, you don't know who I am, but I sent you an email that you didn't respond to, so I have the upper hand in this phone call now".

    Re: Actual structure of the email, just make sure it answers the following questions in the least amount of words:

    Who are you? What do you want? Why would someone help you? (Show, not tell).

    "Or are you cultivating a relationship that hopefully manifests in an internship opportunity a year from now?"
    This describes me completely!!!!! I am a rising sophomore at a non target trying to use the summer time to establish connections that could lead to an internship opportunity next year! I have sent 4 cold emails to places I'm interested in interning and heard back from two of them. The rest didn't respond so I really don't know what to do. Should I reach out to them again in January? I doubt calling right now would be relevant. I feel like they didn't response cause they have more important shit to do right now than answer emails from a kid who wants to intern with them next summer? Also I got a hold of a recruiting assistant for one of the firms on the phone. We had a great conversation and she said she would email me all the info I wanted (my resume was forwarded to her) but never did. Its been 2 weeks since our phone convo and I'm not sure what to do. (I don't have her email) and I feel calling would be intrusive considering I'm looking for opportunities next summer not this one. help, what do I do lol

    This is hard to assess without knowing more about what exactly you're shooting for and what the email you sent looks like. I would recommend sending more than 4 emails though.

  • oowij's picture

    Great advice!

    How would you phrase the, "I want to chat with you if you have some time to spare" aspect of your email? Or is it best to just be blunt and direct like so?

  • In reply to oowij
    chicandtoughness's picture

    oowij:

    How would you phrase the, "I want to chat with you if you have some time to spare" aspect of your email? Or is it best to just be blunt and direct like so?

    Short and sweet does the trick. There's nothing wrong with phrasing it like so.

    Currently: becoming a clinical psychologist... yep, I quit finance
    Previously: M&A consulting (Big 4), M&A banking (MM), business research (HBS)

  • phpmvk's picture

    Culcet:
    Will write another section on the actual cold-call conversation part if there is interest.
    Cheers,

    Is this still an option? There is definitively a lot of interest for this from my part.
    Or did you already write this and I'm not finding it?

  • Culcet's picture

    Will write out my thoughts re: calling in another thread over the next month- still thinking about how I'm going to organize it.

    Cheers,

  • er17's picture

    This may be useful to some people.

    To find the company email address in Google try searching "email * * companyname.com" quotes included. Should be able to get the company name from just the first page.

    Secondly, to check if a email address exists or not you can use this site,
    http://www.mailtester.com/testmail.php

    Some company set their email providers to block email address verification though so it won't for all companies, for example goldman sachs blocks it.

    Happy Networking!

  • mrb87's picture

    I've had a lot of success from when I was a college sophomore looking for an internship to a 2nd-year analyst trying to get a buyside gig.

    1) Email title - if targeted to alumni, whom I prioritized, I would usually just write something like "Opportunities at Firm X -- [insert school here] alum/student." Otherwise, just "Opportunities at Firm X" or "Opportunities at Firm X -- experienced [inset group here] analyst."

    2) Length - keep in mind many of these people are reading on their blackberry. My standard cold-email as an analyst, which I tweaked as needed (sometimes more heavily than others - but hey, if you want a job, you have to be willing to commit the time and not cut corners), is 2 paragraphs and 200-250 words. It was even shorter as a college student. Basically, who I am and why I'm interested in your firm/buyside opportunities comprises the first paragraph, while the second is my skills/experience. As a college student, I took the "I'd like to learn more and would love to talk" approach, but you can't get away with that naivete as an analyst so I was much more direct and to-the-point looking for buyside jobs. I also always attached my CV to avoid any slowdown in communication.

    When I wrote why I was interested in working at Firm X or on the buyside, I didn't write crap like "You have an unparalleled track record and a great culture;" I wrote the reasons why I thought my skills/interests/abilities lined up well with hedge fund/private equity/lateral opportunities. You have to be both specific and to the point.

    3) Tone - too many people write all this fake/idealistic BS in overly stilted language. I hate that and think it dilutes the sincerity.

    4) As far as timing goes, I was never really able to establish a pattern in terms of which times of day seemed to work best. I would avoid sending around major holidays though. (i.e. if you are thinking about sending a cold-email, wait until Tuesday the 8th because lots of people are out this week and will need Monday to catch up). Keep Jewish holidays in mind as well, no joke.

    5) Lastly, agree with following up. You have nothing to lose and nobody will find you annoying if you give it a week or two. Just don't keep bothering.

    Above all, basic ways to easy cross-check things in your email to avoid surprisingly common fuck-ups: Your last step of the email before you click send should be adding the person's email address in the "To" field. Make sure the name in your "Dear [blank]" matches the name in the email address field, make sure the firm name in your subject/body match and also match the firm name in the email address field. Also, make the first thing you do to attach your CV.

  • etherlord's picture

    In terms of content - the shorter, the better. Also, if you can, try to individualize/tweak it a bit beyond changing the name of the contact. I used a variable part of the message (one sentence) that could be quickly tweaked for each contact, while keeping the rest of the message intact.

    In terms of putting in numbers: to get anything out of cold e-mailing, you have to send out e-mails to at least a hundred individuals. Playing the numbers is crucial. E-mails to just 4 contacts have a low chance of helping you.

    Another important aspect is the contact database - this is absolutely critical. You have to have a way to track your progress and apply some strategy to the cold e-mailing process. If you have hundreds or thousands of contacts to e-mail, you will get lost without a good and well thought out database.

  • In reply to etherlord
    mrb87's picture

    etherlord:
    In terms of content - the shorter, the better. Also, if you can, try to individualize/tweak it a bit beyond changing the name of the contact. I used a variable part of the message (one sentence) that could be quickly tweaked for each contact, while keeping the rest of the message intact.

    In terms of putting in numbers: to get anything out of cold e-mailing, you have to send out e-mails to at least a hundred individuals. Playing the numbers is crucial. E-mails to just 4 contacts have a low chance of helping you.

    Another important aspect is the contact database - this is absolutely critical. You have to have a way to track your progress and apply some strategy to the cold e-mailing process. If you have hundreds or thousands of contacts to e-mail, you will get lost without a good and well thought out database.

    Good tips here, too. I think I reached out to 300-500 people. The key is to not hit too many at the same firm (and especially same group), to not do BS like Bcc a bunch of people, and to not fuck up and put the wrong email/name in the wrong place. Everyone's willing to help a sincere, humble college kid who seems genuinely interested and is personally reaching out to people, but lose that illusion with a lazy mistake or come off as a jackass and you end up on Dealbreaker.

    Contact database is good but I would keep in a separate excel file and not in your Gmail/Hotmail/AOL/whatever service. I always breath a sigh of relief every time there's a spammer in my email account, because all of my non-personal contacts are not saved there.

  • mrb87's picture

    My email is my cover letter but yeah I always attach my CV.

  • Black Jack's picture

    So reading this it seems to be advised to re-send an email if no response is given after 1 week or more? Is this generally agreed upon. I guess the worst thing that can happen is the person gets a little bit annoyed and again does not respond.

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