Worst LinkedIn Cold Message Stories

Why don’t we get a thread going of your worst LinkedIn networking stories. It seems like I get 1-2 undergrad students messaging me per week. I always try to help them, and give them some of my time, but the last few undergrads that I have talked to have completely wasted my time. Last week, I had a guy ask me to go for a quick coffee chat. I had some time early in the morning to meet the kid, so I obliged because I remember what it was like. However, 5 minutes before we were supposed to meet, he messages me on LinkedIn saying “something came up.” These kids are going to ruin the networking opportunities for the rest of you. I’ll still do my best to help out the community, but some of these kids do not understand common decency. Does anybody have some other cringe/funny stories?


I just started recently at a BB, and among the several cold LinkedIn messages I got, there’s one kid who got my bank’s name wrong (wrong in the sense of putting on a different BB’s name, not just misspelling), and another kid who apparently doesn’t understand Global Capital Markets is different from Global Markets…

I mean cmon I’m not trying to be a dick, but it’s really a matter of respect to proofread your message and do some proper research before you go on asking for other people’s time… really left a bad taste in my mouth


"Hi, my name is _______. I am pretty keen on being an Investment Banker. However, I am aware of the competitive nature of the industry, and I was looking to connect with someone for advice or a possible mentorship on how the industry works and what direction I should follow to set myself apart."

Like bro, what? 

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That really isn’t that bad. These are 18-20 yr olds, many of them without any experience (or network) in finance. The students at “non target” schools usually don’t have a great career center that can help them out. 

While that message wouldn’t be my choice, it isn’t a disaster, just a bit awkward. But I expect that from students that age, I know I had 0 clue what I was doing back then. 


I went to an extreme non target and never would have sent something like this. it's just simply just poor grammar/sentence structure and can signal other problems. Being polished and having business acumen is important.  


How would this be phrased lol? Like "I know it's gonna be hard being a girl" or what? Not a girl but never heard of this and think it's funny trying to pull that


Student here. Not a message, but had a call with somebody who called me out for trying to recruit elsewhere while doing an internship. Also provided context saying that my current internship does not convert on a regular basis. Super weird vibes. I thought people in the industry understood why people would hedge their bets and look elsewhere.


It's always a bad vibe to network while you have a current job. Makes you seem disloyal. If you are going to lateral, you need a very specific reason why you are lateraling from your bank and why you want to lateral to their bank, otherwise it can seem scummy that you're just trying to recruit to a 'more prestigious' bank.

Maybe he’s trying to be a better banker 


I try to be understanding with students since I remember what it was like in their shoes. With that, here are the things that have happened to me (or colleagues) that I didn’t enjoy (keep in mind I have 15yrs of experience, so not like talking to another 22yr old - and most of these are after the intro and during a call):

1) asking me for my comp: only happened once, nice try, but super weird 

2) flat out asking for a job: friend of a family member, didn’t think there would be a whole interview process, etc

3) Asking questions you can google: how many employees does X have? What does X firm do? Where is the office located (really?)? Just understand this doesn’t move the ball forward in networking 

4) networking email with the times that they are available (and including very limited hours during the work day) and asking me to match their schedule. 
5) using weird language (while trying to connect about perceived shared interests (I.e. school we went to, sports we play); this isn’t a huge deal but keeping it simple gets a much higher response rate


Is giving times you’re available really that big  of a deal? I was networking during my internship all summer and would give a 2 hour time range during my lunch break and the time I got off just to make it easy to coordinate.


It isn’t a huge deal, but you have to realize that the person you are trying to network with is: 1) probably busier than you are and 2) is doing you a favor. 

So including times that work for you is mostly ok, but make it clear that you are flexible and willing to match their schedule. I’ve had countless students tell me they are too busy studying, with exams, have a project, etc. and that they can only do “X” time. Normally those people don’t end up getting my time, I am not going to spend time trying to match their schedule. 


I've seen a lot of pretty terrible stuff: from asking if the comp is good at the firm, to asking what IB is, to mispronouncing the firm's name badly, to listing the person's other interviews and asking where they should go if they got all the offers.

A couple of these are more reasonable if you get the offer or are deciding after the internship whether to come back, but not in a first coffee chat.


I went too hard the night before a call with an MD in asset management and slept through the call...

Needless to say, I don't work in asset management and I am definitely not at that bank.


Maybe I was just a loser back then, but when i was a college kid.... but really??? You can't hold off partying 1 night to make sure you put your best foot forward for something that can benefit your longer term career prospect?  Not trying to be so judgmental but what's the thought process right before going out the night before?


The worst was a linkedin message straight up asking me to refer them from my non-core undergrad (I broke in post-MBA). Like no discussion, no lets talk, just out of nowhere asking for a referral so that they could get an interview. 

I don't know if this is something college job counselors teach because I've had other kids ask for a referral too, albeit post-informational interview. We are a small group that get's mentioned a lot on this site, so can't always oblige unfortunately because of the huge number of candidates vs. interview slots we have.  


I had a similar experience too. 

What's different was this: I went to a non-target in the west coast (UC/CSU), and a girl from a sister school of mine sent me a message. I was like sure, I would help you out as much as I could.

She asked questions like "are you recruiting right now", "can you help push my resume", "do you have any say in the recruiting process", etc.

The WEIRDEST thing is this girl broke into Citi Tech SF, with no stellar internships & no stellar academics...I was like, what the frack? 

She's a 2nd/3rd year analyst right now, and she's international. I don't want to expose her name, but if you know people at Citi Tech SF, you might know who I'm talking about.


I had a student from my alma matter who was late to the game (graduating this year) say

1) So obviously I want to be at MBB but I need to be realistic so i'm applying to your firm as well (EYP/Strategy&/Kearney)

Not too bad but given i'm  manager level you would assume i'd have some level of pride in my firm....

But as others have said this girl was only 21 I finished the conversation, helped where I could and then at the end told her that I understand her ambition but it was a really rude statement and will dissuade others from helping her at all, she was apologetic but the door was firmly closed for a second conversation / referral 


I emailed a senior banker I had a really loose connection with at an EB, and under his college section on linkedin it mentioned he played video games in undergrad (probably as a joke). Not only was my email filled with a ton of obvious typos and missing words, my stupid ass thought it would be a good idea to mention that I loved playing smash bros right at the end too. It was so bad that he actually responded that day just to tell me I should probably reach out to other people in the industry and maybe he could find some time to talk in a few months. Recruiting for SA ended up fine for me but I can only imagine how many times that got sent around the office.


Not even a terrible message, but candidates who “forget” to respond. I get it, you pinged 50 other people and are overwhelmed. Welcome to banking.

They reach out, you offer your time, and they fail to follow up to coordinate a call.



I have a funny case.

I have been working as a recruiting manager for 5 years now.

During this time, a lot of funny and interesting things happened.

My favorite case is connected with a young student who really wanted to work with us.

We have appointed the date and time of the interview.

And 5 minutes before the interview, he wrote that his parents had put him on house arrest.

Then he sent his father's number and asked to persuade him to release.


I've never gotten anything too terrible, just some of what's been mentioned: spelling my name wrong (think like Shaun instead of Sean, John instead of Jon), getting my city wrong, providing a limited window of time to speak because they're "busy" with school and expecting me to accommodate their schedule.  All it takes is sending a normal message and most people will respond to you.


Had a recent college grad reach out to me with the end of the message saying "I'd love to discuss any opportunities at XXX.  Please schedule a call for me (I am currently working in Singapore and am only available between 6-9pm Singapore time) and send me a calendar invite with the details.  Looking forward to connecting"

...yeah bro - I am going to go out of my way to set up a networking call and send a calendar invite to call you between 3:00am and 6:00am my time.  


The most cringe LinkedIn request I got was from a girl I hooked up with at Phebes the night I got my return offer... Still not sure whether I should accept it or not.