5 Ways to Not Suck at Networking

Mod Note (Andy): #TBT Throwback Thursday - this was originally posted on 9/7/12. To see all of our top content from the past, click here.

Kids ask how many bankers they need to contact or how many "informational interviews" they need to set up to score that magical offer. And then once they score that offer they seem to think that's it, that they can call it a day. I understand it's only natural to want to do the least amount of work to get the biggest benefit. But this mentality shows through; people can see when you're going through the motions just for the sake of doing something.

1. You should start calling bankers (or traders, etc.) beginning the day you firmly decide that's what you want to do, whether it be "recruiting season" or not. It doesn't matter.

There is no magic number of contacts that will guarantee you a job. It might be the first guy you reach out to, it might be the 100th. You might even realize through the course of this adventure that banking sucks, and that you'd rather do something else. But the great thing is that in the process of figuring out you don't actually want to be a banker you probably did figure out what you would rather do instead.

2.Be a sniper, not a howitzer. Find one guy and send him an email. Find the next guy and send him one. Don't build it up and blow it all at once because chances are good that no matter how confident you are in the wording of your first cold email, a week later you'll have already made 20 revisions. Also you need to be constantly contacting people on a rolling basis.

3. Analyst to MD, it doesn't matter. Sure you can be an armchair banker, reading about the job on here and elsewhere, but you really haven't the foggiest idea of what it's really like until you actually talk to somebody. And why limit yourself? For those like me who didn't go to a "target" school and are not in New York, the alumni list gets quite short from the beginning. Go after everybody because you'll never know who will randomly be able to help you, which leads to #4.

4. It's all about luck. Some banks are recruiting, others are not. We argue day and night whether 80% the summer interns got full-time offers, or whether it was actually 78%. Really it doesn't matter at all. Forget about what everybody else's situation is, the fact of the matter is that you do not yet have a job. You might speak with an analyst that's a complete dick and an MD that absolutely loves you. You never know.

5. You need to go to your target city and meet these people in person. Take 2 days off of school and set up a trip, whatever it takes. No deal has ever been done over the phone. It shows some deep commitment to spend a few hundred dollars to get on a plane to go drink some flavored water with a guy you don't know. That and it allows the other person to check to see that you are as smart and likable in person as you were on the phone.

Crucial to all of this is that you have a genuine interest in whatever field you are going for, and that you have a solid story to back it up. If you don't, you're going to be eaten alive.

Comments (40)

 
Sep 7, 2012 - 8:25am

Beretta:
I do have to ask you about #5 - do you (you personally) usually meet kids who e-mail you? What makes you want to meet them?

Yes. 1) because it's always good to meet new people. You never know if a situation will come up in the future where you need a favor from them (or they need one from you). 2) because I will be forever grateful to the people who took the time out of their busy days to meet with me.
 
Sep 7, 2012 - 9:44am

olafenizer:
Beretta:
I do have to ask you about #5 - do you (you personally) usually meet kids who e-mail you? What makes you want to meet them?

Yes. 1) because it's always good to meet new people. You never know if a situation will come up in the future where you need a favor from them (or they need one from you). 2) because I will be forever grateful to the people who took the time out of their busy days to meet with me.

I asked because I'm thinking about meeting some people over the next few months before SA recruiting. However, I wasn't sure about how alumni would feel about going out of their way to meet some random college kid. I'm biased to think that 99% of them think it's a waste of time.

 
Sep 7, 2012 - 11:29am

Great post. 2) is a great point. And not commonly mentioned. The more of these cover letters and emails you write the better you get. And its great to contact people on a rolling basis because eventually something will pan out. Gotta just keep it moving.

Hey if you (or anyone else) can cite an experience or the results of using one of these tactics i'd appreciate the feedback on my posts regarding networking and cold emailing (http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/never-give-up-on-or-underestimate…).

 
Sep 7, 2012 - 11:43am

Great post. Quick question: Is there a time where it would be wise to slow down or stop cold-emailing/calling? I networked during most of the summer, but have slowed down since school started. Since summer recruitment starts in December, should I put an end to my networking early-mid November? I don't want to give off the impression that I am networking with them last minute because I have no other options and I am desperate for a recommendation in a month's time...

Maybe I'm thinking too much. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!

 
Sep 7, 2012 - 12:39pm

I was having the same thoughts but you never know what can come up last minute. You also don't want to overthink it. You're not only networking to find a SA position, you are networking as a means to create potentially mutually beneficial relationships. You should keep on networking even after SA recruiting is over.

va643can:
Great post. Quick question: Is there a time where it would be wise to slow down or stop cold-emailing/calling? I networked during most of the summer, but have slowed down since school started. Since summer recruitment starts in December, should I put an end to my networking early-mid November? I don't want to give off the impression that I am networking with them last minute because I have no other options and I am desperate for a recommendation in a month's time...

Maybe I'm thinking too much. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!

 
Sep 7, 2012 - 2:07pm

What about contacting more than one person at the same bank?

Chances are these folks likely know each other. So do you still speak to more than one individual
at the same bank/in the same group or limit it to one person and take the gamble that you'll wind up clicking with that person you have an informational interview with?

"Now go get your f'n shinebox!"
 
Sep 7, 2012 - 2:26pm

JimmyDnFFX:
What about contacting more than one person at the same bank?

Chances are these folks likely know each other. So do you still speak to more than one individual
at the same bank/in the same group or limit it to one person and take the gamble that you'll wind up clicking with that person you have an informational interview with?


Why wouldn't you? Talk to them all if you can. Impress upon them, all of them, that your name is X and you're really cool and you really f'ing want to work for them.

You don't know who's going to respond, and who isn't. That's why you should talk to all of them. But don't just email all the guys in a group at the same time. Try to get one guy to introduce you to the next, who will introduce you to the next using him as a reference.

 
Sep 7, 2012 - 3:09pm

olafenizer:
JimmyDnFFX:
What about contacting more than one person at the same bank?

Chances are these folks likely know each other. So do you still speak to more than one individual
at the same bank/in the same group or limit it to one person and take the gamble that you'll wind up clicking with that person you have an informational interview with?


Why wouldn't you? Talk to them all if you can. Impress upon them, all of them, that your name is X and you're really cool and you really f'ing want to work for them.

You don't know who's going to respond, and who isn't. That's why you should talk to all of them. But don't just email all the guys in a group at the same time. Try to get one guy to introduce you to the next, who will introduce you to the next using him as a reference.

Point taken. I guess the issue is treading that fine line between being an aggressive go-getter type and becoming a pain in the ass. That's where I find there to be little wiggle room sometimes.

"Now go get your f'n shinebox!"
 
Sep 7, 2012 - 2:28pm

JimmyDnFFX:
What about contacting more than one person at the same bank?

Chances are these folks likely know each other. So do you still speak to more than one individual
at the same bank/in the same group or limit it to one person and take the gamble that you'll wind up clicking with that person you have an informational interview with?

Exactly that happened with me - a consultant (I wanna get into consulting, not banking) replied to my cold-email mentioning how I had already spoken to several people in her group and if I still wanted to talk to her. I told her that I am trying to find out as much as possible and talk to as many people as possible to get a better idea of the firm. People talking to each other is inevitable and is bound to happen. Just be respectful and strategic in mitigating these relationships

 
Sep 7, 2012 - 3:53pm

Insightful post. I'm curious though, is it usually socially acceptable to randomly email a stranger and ask them to meet up? Where do you suggest to meet up? Over lunch?

Also, where to begin finding contacts to email? LinkedIn? Company websites?

I feel confident in networking at on campus recruiting events but I can't shake the feeling that it's creepy/awkward/weird to email someone out of the blue and say, "Hey, I'm so and so from so and so school and I'm interested in IB and would like to meet with you to get to know more about the industry."

Thoughts?

 
Sep 7, 2012 - 4:21pm

Silicon Economist:
Insightful post. I'm curious though, is it usually socially acceptable to randomly email a stranger and ask them to meet up? Where do you suggest to meet up? Over lunch?

Also, where to begin finding contacts to email? LinkedIn? Company websites?

I feel confident in networking at on campus recruiting events but I can't shake the feeling that it's creepy/awkward/weird to email someone out of the blue and say, "Hey, I'm so and so from so and so school and I'm interested in IB and would like to meet with you to get to know more about the industry."

Thoughts?

LinkedIn is a great venue for this. Most folks are there for the same reason and already expect to be contacted out of the blue and their profiles indicate if they will accept email about career opportunities or job inquiries or not. You also have their cv in front of you. Armed with that, you should be able to figure out what to make small talk about. Beyond that, you can take informational interviews over the phone or in person.

"Now go get your f'n shinebox!"
 
Sep 7, 2012 - 4:25pm

Silicon Economist:
Insightful post. I'm curious though, is it usually socially acceptable to randomly email a stranger and ask them to meet up? Where do you suggest to meet up? Over lunch?

Also, where to begin finding contacts to email? LinkedIn? Company websites?

I feel confident in networking at on campus recruiting events but I can't shake the feeling that it's creepy/awkward/weird to email someone out of the blue and say, "Hey, I'm so and so from so and so school and I'm interested in IB and would like to meet with you to get to know more about the industry."

Thoughts?

This really depends on the context. If you, for example, just created an account on WSO and started PMing every Certified User how you wanted to "learn about their industry" or something equally generic, then yeah, it probably won't go very far.

However, if you actually do some homework, read about their backgrounds from older posts, draw parallels and make a connection (again, we're human), your odds increase significantly. I'm not saying write a detailed novel to each person you want to contact (being concise is important), but giving a little more background as to why you are reaching out to that particular person can help your odds.

Remember, most people like to help out smart kids, but not many people want to help out LAZY kids that are going through the motions and/or blasting the same template PM or email to hundreds of contacts or members on WSO. Another great way to build relationships is make it out for the Happy Hours...

Good luck guys.

 
Sep 7, 2012 - 6:10pm

olafenizer:
You might speak with an analyst that's a complete dick and an MD that absolutely loves you. You never know.

Or, you might speak with an analyst that absolutely loves an MD's complete dick. You never know.
 
Sep 7, 2012 - 7:59pm

Any tips on networking in PE or VC? I found it's more difficult than banking, cause those guys don't hire many juniors. How to make a smartass baller with high opportunity cost per hour agree to meet a clueless monkey?

The Auto Show
 
Sep 7, 2012 - 8:14pm

huanleshalemei:
Any tips on networking in PE or VC? I found it's more difficult than banking, cause those guys don't hire many juniors. How to make a smartass baller with high opportunity cost per hour agree to meet a clueless monkey?

Offer something that others can't.
 
Sep 7, 2012 - 8:17pm

SirTradesaLot:
huanleshalemei:
Any tips on networking in PE or VC? I found it's more difficult than banking, cause those guys don't hire many juniors. How to make a smartass baller with high opportunity cost per hour agree to meet a clueless monkey?

Offer something that others can't.

Ok, let me think about something other than dick sucking.

The Auto Show
 
Sep 8, 2012 - 4:06pm

Another thing I think this board takes for granted is this:

It's ok to NOT do IB.

During my job search, I narrowed it down between PF and RE. I've always loved RE. But I found PF interesting. I networked and got in contact with a PF guy with Wells in NYC. He told me to write down 10 reasons why I wanted to do both. Couldn't come up with 10 for PF. Made the decision pretty easy for me. After that, I landed a job doing Real Estate, Loan Syndications and Permanent Markets Lending. Yes, 3 roles in one (welcome to the new world of finance). But I now have a position that I will be very well rounded to go further than if I pursued PF.

Keep your options open and sometimes it's better to just ask for advice than a job. A job will come. Almost everybody on here is qualified. But you are pigeon holing yourselves solely trying to get to IB and HBS. There are plenty of routes. There are people who have gone that route and failed as well, so it's not a guaranteed route to success. Life isn't over at 28. Doing something else and transitioning that to IB is very realistic, especially in this environment.

 
Sep 8, 2012 - 5:02pm

Amen, veljones69!

I've found the same to be true. We like to have control and it feels good to have a blueprint that says x+y=z. I think beyond the prestige and comp, folks like IB because there's a defined path that's almost set in stone. Then we don't have to get creative.

Regarding approach, I've found so far what works for me is asking for informational interviews over the phone. This cuts out a lot logistical planning to meet someone in person. And, I find that 9x out of 10 most of the folks I'm networking with aren't in DC where I am. I don't have the fortune of living in NYC where everything is right there e.g. schools, contacts, investment banks, more networking outings for finance, etc. So, I pretty much have to do things long distance. I do think that the more you do informational interviews, the better a picture you get of what you do and don't want to do AND you get practice cultivating your pitch...not to mention it gets less daunting the more practice you have. You feel less and less intimidated by cold-calling folks.

My two cents FWIW.

"Now go get your f'n shinebox!"
 
Sep 8, 2012 - 6:40pm

The only way to not suck at networking is not afraid to suck at networking.
do you know how many previous awkward moments we have to deal with for finally making ourselves the experts of networking?

--Money can't buy happiness. it can only buy orgasms. --Who the hell says I want happiness? Orgasms all I need.
 
Sep 14, 2012 - 8:16pm

Misspartiesalot:
The only way to not suck at networking is not afraid to suck at networking.
do you know how many previous awkward moments we have to deal with for finally making ourselves the experts of networking?

This is very true..

Practice makes perfect.

 
Sep 9, 2012 - 10:15am

Great post. Simple advice, but it's all true.

I wish that I was less afraid to reach out to people when I was in college. I've been in the real world for 4 years now, and I ALWAYS go out of my way to help people that find me on LinkedIn. Oddly enough I became much better at networking myself once younger people from my school started to reach out to me. I thought "I want to help these kids out, and hey, it's always good to meet new people, and it's reasonable to think that many of the people I would e-mail think the same way."

 
Sep 11, 2012 - 10:47am

Hayek:
Great post. Simple advice, but it's all true.

I wish that I was less afraid to reach out to people when I was in college. I've been in the real world for 4 years now, and I ALWAYS go out of my way to help people that find me on LinkedIn. Oddly enough I became much better at networking myself once younger people from my school started to reach out to me. I thought "I want to help these kids out, and hey, it's always good to meet new people, and it's reasonable to think that many of the people I would e-mail think the same way."

Excellent though that you decided to give back. Far too many people suffer from I-Got-Mine syndrome. You never know, those guys may wind up doing the same. Good karma.

"Now go get your f'n shinebox!"
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