How To Be Memorable at a Networking Event

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I'll bet you have a cute little folder with your school's name embossed on it, filled with copies of your resume and some business cards you collected from a few information sessions that never yielded any fruit.

I'll also bet you've got a nice Men's Warehouse suit picked out with some conservative black dress shoes that are just pointy enough for bankers to not make fun of you for wearing for those "corporate networking and information events" that you continue to go to, despite the fact they clutter your inbox since you're on every finance-related listserv in the entire school.

And lastly, I bet you think this is the right strategy to "looking the part" and not making an ass of yourself while possibly getting noticed for asking one of your amazingly unique pre-planned questions such as "what's the culture like at your firm?" or "how are the hours?"

Well guess what, not only do you look and sound like an asshole, nobody is going to remember you afterwards.

Finance Networking Events Advice and Tips

I've unfortunately been to my fair share of information sessions and networking events while on the hunt for a job, but fortunately I've learned where I could diverge from the normally boring (for the employees and for you) mannerisms, make myself stand out, and even have a little fun along the way. So for any of the college kids out there going through the full-time recruitment process or starting to network for summer jobs, here's my tips to actually being remembered at a networking event, and increasing your chances of having that otherwise dull resume picked from the pile...

Networking Event Dress Code

Unless specified as a formal event, leave the suit at home and keep it business casual.

These networking events suck enough for the analysts as it is - they have to look at a ton of people wearing the same shit and asking the same stupid questions all night, while staying on their toes enough not to say anything too stupid or damaging to the firm along the way. I can only imagine what a painfully boring process this must be for them. I digress - chances are every other finance robot out there will be wearing a suit for no apparent reason, so sticking with something casual will help you stand out and more importantly look much more like this isn't your first rodeo. I always go with dress pants or khakis and a french blue button down, I never wear a tie, and usually I keep an extra button undone at the top (but that's just me). Leave something to the imagination for the interview when a suit is actually called for.

Do Your Research Before the Event

Know something unique about the company and try to have a discussion about it. For buy-side this would mean a core holding and for banking it might mean a recent deal.

Coming in and asking standard questions like an idiot makes you seem like you know nothing about the business. Instead, search through the firm's 13-F and see what they invest in, or for banking check out DealJournal or something and see what they've been working on lately. Having a dialogue about these things, picking the analyst's brain, and offering your own opinions as well is a great way to come across as polished and ahead of the curve. I always stayed on top of a fund's major holdings and liked talking about the rationale behind the investment decision with analysts, and it's something they would much rather talk about than what their training program is like. They got into this industry to spend time thinking about businesses, not to ease your worried little mind about how cutthroat the work environment might be. Try to remember that and not only will the analyst like you, but the circle of 5-6 finance robots swarming you both will be too confused by your lack of ignorance to interrupt.

Be Memorable by Sharing Something About Yourself

Don't expect them to remember your name. Instead, make them remember a unique piece of your resume.

I'm awful with names, so I never expect anyone to remember mine either. However, if you've followed #1 and #2, the analyst probably likes you by now but it's still likely he doesn't remember your name or didn't care to listen when you introduced yourself. However, hit him with a unique fact about yourself that's on your resume or make sure you tell him where you worked, and when it's time to sort through the resumes the next day, seeing that fact on your resume will remind him how sharp you were in person. So if you're a juggler, casually mention it at some point. If you worked at a unique firm, perhaps they'll remember you because of that. Just make sure you casually get it across. Plant the seed and it'll pay off when they're reviewing your resume.

Don't Be Afraid to Drink At Networking Events

Get a goddamn beer.

This won't apply to everyone, since information sessions tend to be in conference halls or an environment that isn't beverage-friendly, and some of you won't be 21. But for those invited to networking events at a lounge, restaurant, bar, or hotel, grab yourself a drink and try and appear at least halfway natural. Everyone at these events is going to be too afraid to have a drink for the most part, so step out of your comfort zone and be the guy who does. You'll have a little more fun, stop being so uptight, and will have done yet another thing to make the analysts like (and remember) you. Chances are they want to drink too, but if every kid is getting a water they're probably much less likely to get a double Absolut martini, even if they wanted one. So again, be fun, get a drink, and don't be a baby.

If you loosen up a bit, stop acting like an annoying student, and start sounding more like an analyst, you'll be remembered and will come across as a lot more interesting. And remember, networking is not supposed to be a terribly formal event, so don't treat it like one. The whole point is to get to know the people... and that's true on both ends - theirs and yours.

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Networking Guide


Comments (47)

Sep 20, 2012

Get a goddamn beer.

Get a goddamn job, Al.

Should I ask them what their favorite American Psycho quotes are?

Sep 20, 2012

Oh no, now my "not wearing a suit" tactic is out in the world... SB'ed anyways.

"Every man should lose a battle in his youth, so he does not lose a war when he is old"

Sep 20, 2012

I like to see a guy with an extra button undone at the top.

Agree: get a goddamn beer. Please. If I have a drink in my hand and you don't, then one of three things is true:

1) You're a pussy
2) You're a kid
3) Something is wrong with me

Bankers don't like to think about option 3. So if you stick with water, chances are that the banker is gonna be thinking option 1 or 2.

Sep 20, 2012

All really good ideas, especially the card and note taking. Honestly, my strategy is to just bro it up. I talk about sports, lifting, restaurants, the markets, shows, traveling, whatever. I've noticed after the conversation starts to flow a little bit the person I am networking with will voluntarily offer information/to help if they can.

I am pretty good socially, but there are still awkward moments and sometimes I just cut my losses. Overall my strategy works for me though. I keep it loose and fun.

Sep 20, 2012

Honestly, my strategy is to just bro it up. I talk about sports, lifting, restaurants, the markets, shows, traveling, whatever.

Hah, yep, and hit on all the girls worth hitting on. "Exchanging business cards" is the best way to get numbers post-grad without even being a creep, and it's a perfect time to suggest drinks after as a small group

May 2, 2017

As an undergrad who only recently started really networking- how do you move the conversation from more information to casual?
I feel like It'd be weird to just start a convo with "So what's your max bench?"

    • 3
Sep 20, 2012

Note taking has always helped me. Seems a bit impersonal though, but it is what it is.

Sep 20, 2012

Great post! After the event is all said and done, follow-up with the people who you want to connect with.

Sep 20, 2012

Awesome post.
Would like to see some tips on the follow up; like which medium works best (phone, email), frequency in making connections with the new network, that sorta thing.

Death is certain; Life aint.

Sep 20, 2012

Great advice. I would add that if you are less of an extrovert, go to these events with others - but consider how big a posse you want to have. You can talk about work, but these events are more about getting to know others who can hook you up via their network; think speed dating. Don't take notes in front of the person!

CRE, scamming women under the blanket of business networking is a creeper move...sorry my friend. Thanks for the article P-S

Sep 20, 2012

CRE, scamming women under the blanket of business networking is a creeper move...sorry my friend.

Maybe if you're creepy about it. It's worked for me plenty of times. Not like I'm a weirdo

Sep 20, 2012

I wanted to ask for advice on how I should go about networking sessions; how do I stand out? I'm in a college where recruiters host informational sessions and network sessions. When we break up to network there are usually 7-9 people per every representative of the firm. What are some tips to have a successful networking session?

Thanks a lot!

I think I stand for most people when I say that I hate these kinds of networking sessions. i've never had the chance to have a meaningful conversation at one of these sessions. contacting alumni on my own has yielded me much better results.

Sep 20, 2012

Those events are a shitshow.

The HBS guys have MAD SWAGGER. They frequently wear their class jackets to boston bars, strutting and acting like they own the joint. They just ooze success, confidence, swagger, basically attributes of alpha males.

Sep 20, 2012

One of the best things you can do is listen attentively and then reference the people who spoke and what they spoke about during your first round interview for the "why this firm?" type of questions. Its much better than generic response.

Sep 20, 2012

These info sessions can be harnessed, extremely productively:

1. Ask around and see if you can establish a mutual friend with one of the people going to the infosession. Then, have him/her introduced, quickly break the ice, and take the conversation from there;
2. Arrive 20 minutes early. Get in some quality conversation before the presentation, help them set up. Get to know them in advance.
3. Do not go alone; go with a buddy. This has paid extreme dividends for me. You feed off each others' conversation, you gain confidence, and everything is less awkward and more natural, both for you and the infosession people.
4. Do not talk about "nerd" topics - instead, go for relaxing conversation and general lifestyle questions. Try to be subtly funny; leave a positive impression so that the guy remembers you when you later email.
5. Target the analysts and associates, particularly the ones you feel you have the most in common with (ethnicity, personality, etc). Bond well and they will get you the first rounder.

It is an acquired skill; go to a few, fail, then you will become better. I've come to enjoy these infosessions - free food, a chance to network, and fun with a buddy. It ain't that bad.

To the starving man, beans are caviar

Sep 20, 2012

I've done pretty well at networking events and my tips are these:

1) Show genuine interest in the alumni as a person. Smile, make eye contact, ask them questions about when they were in school, etc. FIND SIMILARITIES.
2) Be considerate in how you go in for the kill aka the biz card. Chances are they'll probably offer this to you, but then again you may have to ask. I usually go up to the person at the end of the event, mention that I'd really like to talk more about XYZ, get the contact info, and then say thank-you-and-goodbye.
3) If the person you really want to talk with is drowning in a sea of students, go ahead and join the crowd so that your face and name gets out there. Ask a few questions too (aka #1). Then, do #2 at the end of the event. Don't even bother trying to stand out amongst a cluster of 10 students.
4) FOLLOW UP WITH YOUR CONTACTS. This is the most important thing. Try to talk on the phone or, even better, meet in person.
5) Demonstrate interest in the company and the division, not just the financial industry. It's likely that the alumni at these events are the ones overseeing OCR and I can guarantee that they remember enthusiasm.

Like someone said above, analysts, associates, and VPs are your best bet. MDs can and will help you out, but you'll have to make more of an effort with them. I've had a MD be a huge asset for me, but I strongly believe that was half luck (we had natural rapport) and half persistence (I was very diligent with emails and then ultimately flew up to meet with him).

May 2, 2017

i hate brown nosing suck ups

May 2, 2017

Don't be annoying. Don't do anything you wouldn't do in a normal conversation.

You want them to feel at ease with you. You also want them to remember you. It's a balance - you have to wait for the right moment, and latch onto something that they connect with.

May 2, 2017
Restructure This:

Don't be annoying. Don't do anything you wouldn't do in a normal conversation.

You want them to feel at ease with you. You also want them to remember you. It's a balance - you have to wait for the right moment, and latch onto something that they connect with.

very good point

May 2, 2017

I'd say definitely make good contact once that person is talking to you. Looking around to see other traders or hot shots doesn't look to the person you're talking to.

May 2, 2017

Talk to the person that seems the most bored. If there is one person that isn't being talked to, go chat with him/her. They will give you their full attention and they will remember you. You don't need to wow them with your valuation skills, just show that you're a bright student and will fit in well with their culture. The fit aspect is huge.

Most of the time, the person singled out is the lowest person on the rank. College candidates tend to flock to MDs. I don't know why? They're the most busiest and chances are they'll ignore your emails. The junior analyst that has the college recruiting experience in their recent memory will be the most willing to help out.

May 2, 2017

Just be a normal human being, plus, show interest in their work, but don't completely bullshit them and say that you have been wanting a career in consulting your whole life. To be frank, though, networking will only help you if you have a crap GPA and absolutely no experiences. I know a bunch of people who interviewed with them without networking at all, in fact, that's how I got my interview.

May 2, 2017

Also, it's EY not E&Y. Looks good if you don't make that mistake at the event.

May 2, 2017

You need to do these 2 things to stand out:
Having a strong, confident presence
Asking thoughtful, insightful questions that are relevant to you

Most people won't even do these 2 things

May 2, 2017

Be the first to offer a firm handshake.
Always introduce yourself with your first and last name.
make eye contact and perfect your elevator pitch
find a common interest during the conversation
don't take to much of someone else's time.

May 2, 2017

What did you say to them?

Sometimes a MD will offer you to pass on your resume for you if you say something along the lines of " I am very interested in working for xxx, do you know how I can improve my chance of securing an interview there?"

However, sometimes you will sense that they won't help you either they dont like you/ there are simply no spots left.

May 2, 2017

Bump. Anyone who has successfully used networking to get an interview/internship/job, please post your story.

May 2, 2017

just be yourself.

i guess as you are a junior right now, you should probably show an attitude that you wish that you can be as successful as the MD one day, and ask him to share with you his experience

May 2, 2017

In general, you are not going to find very many contacts that are so incredibly smitten by you that they want to do everything in their power to get you a job, if not give you one themselves. In reality, bankers are busy - senior and junior levels - and as such, if they are even responding to your emails and answers your questions, you've got a better opportunity than many, and met someone who will offer more help than most.

The key here is to keep up with it, reach out for the phone call, keep the dialogue going - ask follow-up questions via email, if need be get another brief call going to clarify a few more issues. As long as they are showing you the time and offering some answers, they will probably drop your resume when the time comes. Don't think of dropping a resume or putting in a word (if it's a boutique as BBs, the resume drop is usually the help offered - unless the contact is very senior) as a difficult thing for them to do - they won't do it for just anyone in general, but if you are staying in touch with them, come recruiting time, it shouldn't be more than a few follow-up questions such asking about their process, and then politely ask them if this is something they would be able to help out with as well (dropping your resume, not getting you a job) - they may offer as the questions arise and as recruiting gets closer - if they don't, ask yourself - if you've kept up with the contact for a decent amount of time it shouldn't be a big deal - worst case scenario, they say no - again, not a big deal. Check out this if you want to read a bit more on the process, questions, etc:
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May 2, 2017

I did the same thing last year right before Thanksgiving. I had already spoken with most of the guys and girls previously so was in a similar situation. Talk about stuff besides banking (sports, current events, stuff they/you've done recently etc.), recent deals they've worked on, how they like Chicago, how school is going for you so far this year, see if they have any advice about how you can prepare for interviews at their firm specifically, see if there is anyone else you should be talking to.

Hopefully that's a solid foundation that you can build off of. Sucks that the weather will be shitty tomorrow for you lol (it was in the teens and snowing last year when I visited).

    • 1
May 2, 2017

yea fuck i didn't see the weather haha, thats gonna blow. But i really appreciate the advice man, definitely have some idea of what to talk about now. I'm pretty good friends with these guys so I'm sure a more casual natured conversation will be the route I'm gonna take.

SB'ed for the advice

May 2, 2017

From my perspective the best advice is "don't drink too much" - sounds pretty obvious but so many interns make a fool of themselves by ending up completely wasted.
I'd not try too hard to network with senior people but if your Director supports you coming with him he might introduce you to some people and then it's up to you to leave a good impression. From my experience, as long as you don't try to get something out of the encounters too obviously, it doesn't really differ who you talk to but it's usually easier to relate to the juniors.
I'd also advise against bringing up your potential job search if nobody asks as your Director might consider it disloyal. You can also touch that topic at a later stage if you decide to stay in contact with some of the people you met.

    • 1
May 2, 2017

This sounds like it's probably an ACG event, or something similar. I would caution you to just not be too much of a try-hard. You will be there as a steward of your firm and should act accordingly (i.e. put your firm before your personal career needs). Try to build some relationships, and if you hit it off with a few guys, reach out to them outside of the event to follow up.

May 2, 2017

Not really. What are the circumstances of your invite?

May 2, 2017
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