5 Tips for Stellar Courtesy Visits
So you’ve scored a chat with someone who works in the industry. What do you do next so you don’t screw it all up and look like a fool?
First, I use the term ‘courtesy visit’ for two reasons: 1) because I hate the term ‘’. To me it just sounds stupid. You never actually use the phrase in conversation, and I cringe at the idea of someone writing “Hi, I’d like to meet you for an .” It just sounds awkward, and 2) you booked a flight to their respective city and are actually meeting these people face-to-face over coffee.
1. Know the bank, know your contact, and know the basics of their sector.
Read up a little bit on the news specific to that bank. Linkedin is useful for figuring out the background of the person you’re talking to (if you haven’t already done that). Don’t spend hours absorbing every little bit of information because #2…
2. Don’t be a know-it-all. It’s okay to be a little ‘aggressive’, but don’t go over the top. I really don’t care that you have the league tables memorized or that you know every deal that every bank has advised on in the past year or that you memorized some arcane crap about pension accounting. Frankly you really should try to talk as little as possible in order to reduce the probability of you putting your foot in your mouth.
3. Be honest. If you’re talking to abanker but you don’t know anything about banks, don’t try to b.s. Just admit you don’t know very much about the particular industry, but that’s the reason you want to talk to that guy- because you want to become more familiar with it and the people who cover that industry. Don’t ever lie; it is unprofessional and it will come back to bite you in the ass.
4. Make a specific request. You could spend all day and night talking with people at the banks, but what’s the point of doing so unless something actually comes of it? If the person you’re meeting with was kind enough to meet you in the first place, they’re very likely perfectly willing to put you in contact with a colleague or somebody else you ought to talk to.
5. Follow up the same day. Send a short note thanking for them for their time and incorporating a unique element of the conversation you had. If it was a good conversation, you should have at least one unique thing to share.
Thank you again for taking the time to meet with me today. It was great to meet someone else who collects Pez dispensers...
As for general advice about the basics of how to talk to people, I highly recommend How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships by Leil Lowndes (Amazon Link). Parts of it may seem a bit corny, but all-in-all it’s a great book.
Finally, don’t ever be late and always wear a& tie (conservative patterns, please).