How to network with non-alums?

John-Jacobs1's picture
Rank: Gorilla | banana points 717

I've exhausted my alum list and have been reaching out to non-alums. From the responses I get (only been networking with other non-targets), it's mostly people who understand how brutal the climb was and are nice enough to spend some time talking. I always try to find something in common but what if I have nothing in common? How do I send a really solid email? Is it worth sending a longer email which speaks to some of my accomplishments so they know they aren't wasting their time?

Comments (14)

Mar 23, 2019

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Mar 23, 2019

Right, that makes sense, my question is how do you get non-alums to actually respond to your emails? I have ~30% response for alums and i think a ~5% response rate for non-alums. I usually use the same emails so I'm not really sure if I'm doing something wrong.

Mar 25, 2019

Like what Henri said above, make the message/email sound genuine and show you are interested in their firm and their experiences, directly tell them you wanna get on the phone/get coffee with them but say it in a polite manner where you are not too pushy or desperate. But at the end of the day, it is a numbers game... expect around 10% of people to actually talk with you but the more people you reach out to, the more likely you'll get a response

Mar 25, 2019

Try to find shared interests as well. but I agree with the above.

Apr 13, 2019

I personally wouldn't send a long email with your accomplishments. I think that might just get ignored or deleted.

I think a solid email is one that is short. Obviously if you have something in common that would help. Or if you met the person before. But cold emails DEFINITELY work. Many will get ignored, but some do work.

Here is an example:

John,

I hope this message finds you well. As a quick intro, my name is Madison Jones and I am currently a junior at UT studying Finance. I am really interested in a career in investment banking and was wondering if you might have 15 minutes for a quick phone call. I'd greatly appreciate your time and advice.

Thanks so much in advance.

Best,

Madison

I have a couple blog posts (here and here) on networking which you might also find helpful.

PS - if you have a sec, I'd really appreciate if you could check out my new blog. It is based on my experience as a woman in the financial services industry! https://viewfrommadisonave.home.blog/

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Apr 13, 2019

ask them to play you in a chess match

excel is my canvas, and data is my paint - new york - brunch conesseiour - atheist - centrist - ENFP - TCU alum

Apr 13, 2019

This might be a little off topic but I've been meaning to share it on this platform...

One thing I cannot stand (and will almost certainly motivate to immediately delete the email) is when college students trying to network end emails with:

"I look forward to hearing from you" or

"Looking forward to setting up a time to chat"

I acknowledge that I might be a bit harsh on this point, but when I was networking I almost always ended each email with:

"I understand you are very busy, so no problem at all if you are not able to get back to me"

^ worked like a fucking charm and I would say I got responses 7-9/10 times with that. Bottom line - don't be presumptuous, respect people's time

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Mar 23, 2019

Interesting, I don't put either but was considering the "I look forward to hearing from you" since it conveys some sense of "hunger/aggressiveness" (hard to communicate via email) but wasn't sure if this was the case.

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Apr 16, 2019

Put "look forward to hearing from you". Absolutely nothing wrong with that. If someone gets disrespected from something as polite as the above statement, know that it's got nothing to do with you.

Most Helpful
Apr 14, 2019

I think it varies by person but at least for me I think this thread psychoanalyzes the email wording too much. For me:

1) You absolutely need to attach a resume otherwise I likely won't respond. I've posted about this in the past but there are just so many gatekeepers out there beyond just me that if you don't fit the profile of what our eventual analyst class looks like (in terms of internships, grades, etc.) then there is almost no chance you get through. If you reach out, I respond asking for a resume and it's not strong then it kind of just wastes time (in that case you need to network with someone with a lot more pull then me).

2) If you're from my alma mater I'll generally try to make an effort to speak with you

3) Depends on timing too - right now we are in almost in the thick of things and I think I've gotten 8-10 emails over the last month or two. For 30 min calls, that ends up being 4-5 hours of calls and I can't just refer over every single person I talk to otherwise the recommendation has no weight. Thus in these busy times I kind of have to limit to only alums

4) All that said, a lot of people have helped me along the way (having gone from BO->MO->MM->EB) so I really do appreciate the struggle and try to help as many as I can. If a non-alum reaches out earlier in the process (like Nov-Dec-Jan) theres a good chance I'll make an effort to speak to them or even grab coffee if time allows.

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Apr 15, 2019

Interesting thread. I think Quaneaser really nailed down a lot of key advice.

The only other thing I could possibly advise would be;

  1. Do you have any friends that possibly go to said "non-alum" schools? Leverage that.
  2. If not, does the "non-alum" school have a student managed fund? (IU with its IB workshop, PSU with its NLF, etc..) possibly reach out to those students via email/LinkedIn and ask to talk with them. 9/10 they have an analyst/associate connection that you can then leverage and from there, you just want to keep up to date with this process.

Also, when getting them on the phone be prepared with a list of questions, let the person know their time is valuable and you will only take X mins of their time, and stick to it.

Networking with non-alum is definitely more challenging since their is less common ground but can be done.

Best of luck.

Apr 15, 2019
John-Jacobs1:

How do I send a really solid email? Is it worth sending a longer email which speaks to some of my accomplishments so they know they aren't wasting their time?

If you send them a long email about your accomplishments you will already be wasting their time.

Short. Succinct. Catchy. Get them interested quickly. Be creative, try different drafts. Monitor open rates for each version and adjust as necessary.