Networking 101 – 8 tips from a “non-target” school studentSubscribe
Journals of a "Non-Target" University Student
Networking in the Finance or Investment Banking industry is incredibly difficult. Whether you’re a rising sophomore trying to get your hand at any bank or company that will take you on as an intern or a graduating senior in a rush to secure your final internship or job that will kick start your career, networking is the key to getting there. But it’s not always easy, especially if you’re from what the Wall Streeters call a “non-target” university.
After months of research and testing different strategies I’ve compiled a list of unique networking concepts I think could take anyone’s networking to the next level. While I won’t give you a comprehensive step-by-step (that’s something you have to personalize to your strengths), this list will help you turn your networking into effective job-securing strategies.
Building and compiling a list of warm connections that you can contact is pivotal in developing an effective networking method.
1. An important organizational strategy is building a list of contacts in an excel document and sorting each contact by defining characteristics. This is usually high value conversational information such as similar interests and hobbies, alumni status, or interesting career accomplishments. This helps you organize thoughts and conversational directors to effectively appeal to your connection.
2. Compiling in an excel sheet is especially beneficial because it optimizes self analysis process and monitoring results of each strategy you deploy. For example, if a certain networking template works incredibly well with bankers from a certain bank or state but only in that bank or state then I know to change strategies for potential contacts outside of those characteristics.
3. Finally go beyond the easy list. It’s common knowledge to use university alumni, former internship coordinators, and family or parental connections but most people will stop there. That’s usually not enough, especially if you come from a “non-target school.” Taking it a step forward and browsing through 2nd/3rd connections on LinkedIn to find bankers that to connect with by leveraging similar interests, LinkedIn posts, or career paths can revolutionize networking strategies
Building the Network
Now that you have a solid list its time to get up and network.
4. Creating the perfect template isn't the goal. It's to create a few great ones. You'll never find the one emailing or networking template that lands you every job or internship you want, but you can find 5-6 that work incredibly well. Your goal is to leverage those in a variety of situations based off the analysis you do as described in our first tip. There are plenty of templates out there that tell you exactly how to communicate effectively and earn a respectable return on networking, I recommend parsing through them and finding the top 5 templates you like to develop your personalized strategy.
5. Networking is about maximizing your initial outreach. Connections must mutual, not one sided. So what makes it interesting or valuable for potential connections to talk to you? The first step is playing your strengths. Do you work best in person or over email, are you spontaneous or do you prefer refining your discussion topics? Understanding these nuances can help you steer conversations onto your playing field. For example, if you’re better at creating connections in person than leverage that by setting up a coffee date. If you’re better at online networking than keep the connection to calls and emails.
Developing meaningful relationships
While having a network is incredibly important it doesn’t really mean anything unless you can transition those key short-term connections into meaningful long-term relationships. Keep in mind, we’re not building personal but business relationships so our goal isn’t to become their best friends, rather to engage with them in a professional manner.
7. Professional relationships come from a sense of mutual respect and value that you have to build on your own. Developing those requires a keen and rigorous demonstration of interest in self growth and career development, understanding of your industry, and respectable charisma are the basics that make up networking. Connections want to know that if they're investing resources into you, that you'll be able to leverage those resources effectively.
8. Finally displaying consistency is incredibly important in transitioning potential relationships from the initial rapport to long term connections in your network. Keep in contact. Follow up every 2-3 months with individuals that seemed interested in you. Send emails, set up coffee chats and phone calls, or even send a text message (if they’ve given you their number), anything to help remind connections about you and your interest in them and the industry. The relationship is professional so keep the conversation directed towards your career growth, industry trends and standards, and mini-asks (resume editing, career advice, etc)
~ That's my take on the topic I'd love to hear y'alls tips and thoughts on these strategies