How to fuckup a networking call

I was wondering how can a networking call potentially go bad? Like what are the donts of informational interviews/networking calls? Any interesting stories?

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Comments (51)

Mar 3, 2020 - 2:58pm

Biggest overarching Don't is asking negative questions. I do not want to be reminded of these things. I also find it inappropriate to ask about someone's plans post-banking - when this happens it feels like the networkee does not take the job seriously and just sees it as a path to somewhere else.

"How do you handle working so late"
"Is IB as hard as everyone says"
"How do you manage all of the work"
I handle it a few ways, but dwelling on it and talking about the negatives is not one of them!

"If a grasshopper tries to fight a lawnmower, one may admire his courage but not his judgement.." - Robert Heinlein
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Mar 3, 2020 - 4:50pm

Pretty strange to be offended on asking why someone picked a bank. It's one thing if you worded it in a weird way. I.e. "so why did you end up at such a crappy bank?" But if you are just trying to understand what they found appealing about the deal flow/culture/etc at their bank that seems fine. With that said there isn't much upside to that question, I would ask specifically about their bank so that you don't get any misunderstandings (don't force comparison to other places and avoids people who might be sensitive if they wanted to work somewhere else).

I think the biggest way to mess up a networking call is to not know who you are talking to and not having done any research on the bank/firm. Asking basic questions that you could easily google isn't going to make you a connection (it'll probably get someone to tell you that you can easily google that). That is one of my biggest frustrations when it comes to networking calls.

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Most Helpful
Mar 3, 2020 - 5:07pm

Ways to fuck up:
1. talking about yourself too much
2. asking dumb questions about them or their firm that you could have found the answer online
3. wasting their time
4. not having a good follow up plan or reason for contacting them

What you should be doing -
Tell them a little bit about yourself, be concise 60 seconds or less to give them context for your call. You should have your 'elevator pitch' down before any call.

Ask about their story, how'd they end up in banking, and advice for breaking in or whatever you're seeking from the call. Your goal when they hang up is to make them think they enjoyed the conversation and that you're worth helping/connecting with.

Have a follow up plan. Don't waste their time.

Did I mention, don't waste their time?

"Out the garage is how you end up in charge It's how you end up in penthouses, end up in cars, it's how you Start off a curb servin', end up a boss"
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Mar 3, 2020 - 5:29pm

How direct do you recommend being (to let them know I am looking for help/advice to break in)

Mar 3, 2020 - 6:12pm

IMO once you've built the rapport you can be as direct as you want to be.

Before asking for help or advice though you should have an idea of how they might be able to help or what you specifically need advice on.

"I need advice on breaking in" is clearly not as good as, "I could use your advice. As you can probably tell, i'm working my tail off trying to break in but keep hitting barrier xyz. Did you ever experience this? What do you recommend for getting through this obstacle?"

"Out the garage is how you end up in charge It's how you end up in penthouses, end up in cars, it's how you Start off a curb servin', end up a boss"
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Mar 4, 2020 - 11:30am


"Out the garage is how you end up in charge It's how you end up in penthouses, end up in cars, it's how you Start off a curb servin', end up a boss"
  • Prospect in S&T - Other
Mar 3, 2020 - 9:17pm

One thing that might be going under played here, and it depends on the person your calling, but try to shift it away from a networking call and more so to an actual conversation. For me, personally, my best contacts for recruiting happened when I had actual genuine conversations with the people about stuff outside work like their hobbies and stuff. If you can do that, in my opinion, shows that not only you have great questions, but also that your easy to work with. Just my 2 cents

Mar 4, 2020 - 11:29am

This 100%.

"Out the garage is how you end up in charge It's how you end up in penthouses, end up in cars, it's how you Start off a curb servin', end up a boss"
  • Investment Analyst in PE - Other
Mar 3, 2020 - 10:55pm

Please don't refer to getting an internship as "breaking in" that's so cringey. You're being evaluated on whether you're good enough and realistically cool enough. Theres no breaking in, either u fit the role or u don't.

Just ask advice for the recruitment process, ask them if they'd critique ur resume, ask for what sort of interview questions to expect, etc...

Also pls never directly ask for a referral. People will either do it or not, and if they do they often will mention they did in an email following ur thank you email. If someone doesn't tell you they referred you then keep networking until u get someone who tells u they did if u want the absolute sure thing, but chances r someone still did but just didn't let u know.

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Mar 4, 2020 - 9:27am

From my numerous networking calls, I think it really depends on the person - sometimes the banker would cut all the small talk and will want you to get straight to the point i.e. talk about banking and banking only; no hobbies.

Other times they don't want to talk about their job at all - one banker even said straight up that I should try to talk more about things outside of banking that I have in common with the banker when doing networking.

I think the best calls for me at least was when they were blunt and honest about the job - other banks are great too, try not to limit yourself to IB, it's probably not what you think it is, if I were you I'd go out and explore the world or go into start-up because the longer you're in the industry the harder it is to get out etc. basically giving life advice. I don't know if anyone else has had this experience.

Mar 4, 2020 - 12:52pm

Wouldn't say this is a fucked up call but it annoyed me to no end.

A few years ago when I was looking for any internship experience, I had a conversation with someone working in corporate banking. We had a pretty good 30 min conversation (relatively long for a typical networking call) talking about his background and his time at xyz bank. I felt like during the call I had done a pretty good job showing my interest in the job / demonstrating general industry knowledge. At the end of the call I asked if the company was looking to fill in any internship positions and all of a sudden he acted really offended. Turned out that he just applied to his position online and wasn't really keen on the idea of networking to get an interview / introducing me to someone else in his group.. said that he didn't want to put his name on the line for someone he didn't know and that it was inappropriate that I asked. Sometimes that's just how networking goes.

Mar 4, 2020 - 2:25pm

Yup that's how these things go. Anyone with any experience knows why students want to "network". It isn't a surprise you are looking for a job, I don't think you really want to learn much about my background, the firm, etc. (fine you care a bit but I know the reason for the call).

I do think students sometimes cross the line asking to be referred, I take referring people seriously. I will gladly say I know someone or forward a resume if I had a good call but I will give the appropriate context (how I know you). If you have a conversation with me and then tell the recruiter (or write in the app) that you know me, that is fine, but I'll let HR know how I know you (one 15 min phone call, etc).

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Mar 4, 2020 - 3:17pm

I don't really have a so-called "line" in being either asked to forward a resume to the right decision makers or make an introduction to another colleague, but the candidate needs to make a good impression on me before I feel comfortable doing either. They need to demonstrate that they are interested in the job, technically sound enough to do the job, and socially mature enough to interact with others in an office setting. If not, I'd make suggestions on how they can improve their profile and tell them that he or she can keep me in the loop.

The point of my post is that if people are being asked to take a networking call, they should at least leave the candidate with information to push him / her in the right direction. Otherwise, you're not really adding value and wasting time.

May 29, 2020 - 4:28pm

If you have a conversation with me and then tell the recruiter (or write in the app) that you know me, that is fine, but I'll let HR know how I know you (one 15 min phone call, etc).

How does this work exactly? I've seen on some online applications it asks you if you have a social relationship with any employees and to list who and how you know them. Should you get permission? It sounds like if you don't then you come off as an annoying kid trying to use their name to further your application process and that's an automatic ding.
Mar 4, 2020 - 4:06pm

So the networking course as part of our interview courses goes into a lot of this stuff, but I'm wondering if for people this doesn't come naturally to there is a way we could systemetize it and help people improve this super critical skill.

Literally this is the #1 skill in your career that can open a ton of doors or leave a lot shut. So without proper etiquitte, conversational skills and the ability to pick up on social cues (even over the phone), what do you guys and gals think would be the best way to actually teach this? Mock informational calls and just lots of reps obviously helps, but any specific thoughts on how we could train for this better?

It strikes me on the Monkey to Millions mentee sessions I have how a TON of our time is just spent coaching them on this networking outreach to open doors... just got me thinking...

Mar 5, 2020 - 12:16pm

I agree with you and I think the reason that is the #1 skill is because it's about connecting with people. (e.g. lots of people can get a call with a CEO, but it's those that are good at it that can convince him you're the right capital provider after just one meeting)

For me, it was reading "How to win friends and influence people" and "Non-violent communication: A language of life" that really helped in addition to your networking course. I think those two are must reads for anyone who finds themselves flat lining on networking calls.

  • Intern in RE - Comm
Mar 5, 2020 - 12:58pm

I had a string of networking calls that went phenomenally - the individuals were very engaging, responsive, and seemed genuinely excited to help someone curious about the industry. Riding that wave of easy conversations, I went into another call without preparing as much as I should have. I may have caught this guy at a bad time, but he was responding with one word answers to questions that would have previously generated, at the very least, a question or comment that I could have swung into a conversation. Anyway due to that shift I was unprepared, and ended up essentially reading off my list of questions. Safe to say rapport was not built and there's absolutely no shot I can reach out again. I was embarrassed as fuck, but adapted and have over prepared for all calls since, so a good lesson to learn while young.

  • Prospect in Other
Mar 7, 2020 - 6:31am

I went out with my team for lots of drinks before the networking call & I didn't cancel because I thought it would be rude. Told him/her this and our phone call ended like 5 mins later.

  • Prospect in Other
Mar 7, 2020 - 9:05pm

As a prospective monkey, mentee

May 29, 2020 - 6:05pm

Don't waste their time. I once I set up a call with a VP alumni that gave his email through a campus event. After emailing him he gave me his number to call at the time we set up and I thought all was good. Called the number: no answer. Left a voice message and sent an email saying I called. He messages back that something came up and offered to reschedule for later in the day. Once we were on the phone he sounded rushed and I could hear him shooing away people that were walking up to his desk. He puts me on hold for longer than 5 minutes and was surprised that I was still on the line when he came back. He apologized and said he doesn't usually treat people like this and to send him my resume. I've done plenty of networking calls previously but this one just threw me really off guard. I should of had the sense to realize the guy was busy and offer to reschedule again instead of staying on hold afraid of being rude. It was super awkward and embarrassing. Haven't talked to him since.

Oct 15, 2020 - 1:20pm

This isn't on you. He offered to reschedule for later that day, how were you supposed to know it would happen again? Magical foresight into his calendar?
I'd just follow up again afterwards and reiterate that your schedule is flexible and you know he is busy, so rescheduling isn't an issue for you and you'd still like to talk to him. He'll understand and appreciate it.

A referral I ended up getting happened after the guy rescheduled 3+ times. It just happens.

Oct 14, 2020 - 3:18pm

i hate it when they don't continue the conversation and i run out of things to say, its just so awkward. Luckily he ended it as soon as he realized i ran out of things to say and was just asking random questions like did he miss college.. lmao

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