How do you network in the finance industry?

Networking is the process of establishing relationships with professionals as a way build a foundation of contacts that can help you though your entire career. Stop being so focused on the short-term. This could be the most vital part of securing an interview for many undergraduate students. Coming from a target school you will have the opportunity to network at on-campus recruiting sessions and with a much larger group of alumni already on Wall Street. For semi-targets and non-targets, you will not be afforded these luxuries, and you will likely have to be much more proactive in your networking efforts.

Regardless of where you are coming from, networking should be a priority for you. Even if you can get an entry-level job without networking, you never know what opportunities might be opened up by your network down the road.


The purpose of networking is to establish relationships with people already in the business that can vouch for you. There are a number of ways to do this, mainly cold-emailing, cold-calling, and relying on personal relationships and alumni. The goal when speaking with these people is to get them to do either a phone or in-person informational interview. While either one is a great start, you should really aim for an in-person meeting so a stronger relationship is built.

Personal Relationships:

Personal relationships are perhaps the best way to start networking for a first-round interview. Do you have a father, sister, cousin, uncle, or close family friend working for a company you would like to learn more about? If so, you should aim to network and build relationships with these people. They will most likely be willing to help if they can, and they will usually provide you with a more direct representation of their firm and industry. Depending on the level of personal interaction you have had with them and their position with the firm, they may very well be able to secure you an interview or job. You can also use these relationships to try and find more networking opportunities by asking if they know anyone else you can speak with.

Cold-Emails and Cold-Calls:

Cold-emailing and cold-calling are the best ways to network if you don't have any personal connections to an industry or firm. Be aware that to be successful with this method you need patience and persistence. If you can find 500 people to email and call, you will likely get further than someone who shoots off a dozen emails and calls it a day. Emailing is generally more effective than calling as that allows the person you are targeting time to finish what they are doing and get back to you, whether that is an hour later or two weeks later.

Since establishing relationships is far more effective than submitting a resume online, you should start as early as possible by reaching out to alumni, family and friends; attending career fairs and presentation sessions; and setting up informational interviews. The best way to get a comprehensive understanding of the intricacies of networking is by reading through the WSO Networking Guide and practicing your personal pitch as much as possible.

Remember, you may be going to informational interviews to learn more about a firm or industry, but you are also presenting yourself as a potential co-worker or employee.

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