Networking for the first Job


I am a senior in college and have been doing a fair amount of networking. My strategy has been to cold email people asking for advice, then ask if there's anyone in their firm I could talk to and hoping that I build the start of a relationship. So far, my conversations have all been one-offs and felt somewhat pointless aside from the insight and advice I've gained. Should I continue with this strategy of talking to people, or should I be more direct about the fact I'm networking with the intention of getting a job? Any insight or advice is appreciated.

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Comments (8)

Sep 6, 2021 - 1:02pm

I'm a senior as well and when I'm networking I'm fairly honest about what I want. I mean they already know why you're reaching out, it's not like you found their LinkedIn so interesting that you just wanted to get to know them better. I get a good response rate from people and in my opinion, it leads to some hot connections. Being more direct in my intentions has led to two internships so far (would've been three but you know...). Obviously, even after they've helped or couldn't offer any help directly, follow up and keep the connection alive but I'm sure you know that already.

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Sep 6, 2021 - 1:32pm

Honestly, the cold "I'm a UG senior looking for advice, build a relationship" is just interpreted as "Hi, im looking for a job, does your firm have any?". So, really little harm in saying so. Most people will direct you to the firm's website for job postings, and honestly, you can't expect someone to give an internal recommendation unless they really know you. 

So, is what your doing worth it? Sure, but honestly it's a low yield game. What's better? "Warm" networking, where you specifically reach out to people in your existing network or via affinity groups. The best "affinity groups" are alumni of your college in real estate (regardless of when they graduated or which program) and organization you are a member... such as NAIOP, ICSC, ULI, etc. You can join all of those as a student cheaply and get full access to the membership directory which gives you contact info that is probably better than LinkedIn. Also look for any local groups in the markets you are targeting or near your school (MBAofNY and YREPNY are examples of such in the NYC area, I'm sure there are similar types in most major markets and even small markets).  

Sep 9, 2021 - 12:39am

To further your first paragraph, this is why it's important to not beat around the bush when networking. It's better to introduce yourself and get into the fact that you're looking for a job and make any connections once you're on the phone. At least for me, I found that getting straight to the point helped eliminate a lot of the bullshit small talk required to broach the topic on a call and I had much more success when I acknowledged to people exactly what they knew I was reaching out to them for.

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Sep 6, 2021 - 1:34pm

On calls feeling like one-offs. When I first started networking, like halfway through sophomore year, a lot of my conversations felt that way. We would talk and it would go well but that was it, I had no idea what I should follow up with. It took me a little bit to just let things flow, with some people we talk for 10 or 15 min, they answer my questions and we end the call and I'll never speak to them again. That's just how it goes with some calls. Just make sure to follow up with the people you had a good talk with, if you're in their city ask to meet them for a coffee, let them know about any updates, if you come across something you don't understand and can't find a good answer, email them with it. It doesn't have to be anything big but just make sure it isn't silly and a waste of their time,

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Sep 7, 2021 - 11:56am

It's a good strategy you've got and really a numbers game. Try to meet people in person at networking events or asking to get a coffee if you're nearby. You get their sole attention better as opposed to a call that could get moved around a little too much. You can potentially bite higher up on the food chain by approaching those who are more experienced and are decision makers in the hiring process. They'll know you're looking for an internship or job already so in general getting a response from them as it is will be a good sign.

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Sep 7, 2021 - 1:06pm

Everyone knows why you are reaching out, so I wouldn't worry about it.

The big thing is follow-up. It is unlikely someone you talk to once will recommend you for a internship/spot. They have to be vested in you (it is why nepotism exists - people hire the kids of people they have known their whole lives). Pick something out of the conversation/news, whatever and put in an email or call to further the discussion.

Example: Last fall, two kids reached out to me. They go to good RE schools (and are friends) but not from where my firm usually targets (we aren't elitist by any stretch, but with limited HR and openings, recruiting has to focus resources). They reached out to me and to several others in my group and did a good job of keeping the conversation going (providing updates on school projects/clubs, following up when deal news from my firm came out, etc).

Those kids ended up being 2 of the 3 interns my group had over the summer and just accepted offers to come back as analysts next year. We had over 1,000 applicants for our internship program, and while these 2 went through the process like others, they had pre-spoken to 3 of the 4 people who ended up running the internship program this year (we rotate). Could they have landed the internship/job without the networking, probably (very smart kids that were very polished), but it definitely didn't hurt that they were recognized when their resumes were coming through.

Sep 7, 2021 - 11:26pm

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