Networking: who to talk to FIRST at your target firm: senior people (VP/MD) or junior/mid-level (Analyst/Associate)

Some might say that one must be properly armed not only with the technical knowledge but also the firm-specific knowledge for meetings with senior people in order for them to back you up for a position. Hence, one should meet with junior/midlevel people first. Thoughts?

Does the answer change if the person is an alumnus of your school?

Assume you are shooting for an associate position.

Comments (37)

Apr 20, 2015 - 11:57am

I was told a few times that senior people would prefer you've talked to their junior people first, especially if you have access to a junior person (alum, etc.). Also depending on the industry, VPs/MDs travel a lot and are hard to get a hold of. But if you only find connections at the VP/MD level, I'd go for it.

Apr 20, 2015 - 1:49pm

I would go for VPs/MDs that really relate to your background and experiences. These usually include your major (are you Finance? Or are you liberal arts?) and previous internship experiences. VPs and MDs are usually very generous and would love to speak with a potential candidate over the phone/email. Keep in mind: I'm a firm believer that an "informational interview" is the pre-1st round screen. As long as you sound social and know the basics of Finance.You should be good. Good luck.

Apr 20, 2015 - 2:31pm

Thanks. I do have a finance background. I feel that raises the bar for me somewhat. Like I said I am shooting for an associate position which is not entry level. It seems that having as much knowledge as possible about the nitty-gritty in the firm is where I can truly set myself apart by prep-ing my elevator speech in accordance to the needs of the firm.
'Completely agree with you about treating the informational interview as a 1st round interview.

May 22, 2015 - 7:35am

I made the big mistake of going too aggressively on the HR contact instead of talking to the senior partner first.

Oh well... you live you learn.

My trial and error advice: If you have the opportunity to meet someone in person at the firm, do that BEFORE you start asking about internships/open positions. Think of it this way - if the firm doesn't reply to your informational interview request, do you think they would reply to an aggressive cold email? There is only so much of your personality that you can display through an email, resume and cover letter. Unless if you are an Ivy BB rockstar, of course...

My 0.02$

May 22, 2015 - 9:09am

I'd always go for the highest level person you can find. You want to get in with a decision maker or someone who has influence - otherwise you can be as impressive as possible and it won't matter for shit.

Commercial Real Estate Developer

May 22, 2015 - 10:23am

In my experience, a single MD/VP/Associate level guy can basically guarantee you an interview if he really likes you. Some Associates/Analysts can push your resume onto the stack they are considering.

In my experience, Associates/VP are the guys who respond to cold emails most often. Almost all my in-person informational interviews were with Associates/VPs who I spoke to on the phone first. I never got to a superday when my contact at the firm was only an Analyst, but got to numerous when I had at least one Associate/VP pushing my resume.

In the end though, you need to talk to everyone who is open to speaking with you without becoming annoying to a single group/company. You should be doing this for your own benefit. Analysts and Associates can tell you more about what your day-to-day job would be like. Higher level people can pass along career advice. Both levels of people can help you get jobs in the future. You might even become friends with some.

As a side, the single most helpful person in terms of recruiting was an MD who got me interviews in 3 different companies because he was a great person who understood how hard it was for younger guys trying to get a job. Forwarded my resume to different companies after he forwarded it to his own recruiters.

A lot of times the higher up guys will then introduce you to younger guys. I didn't have much luck the other way around.

Best Response
May 22, 2015 - 10:28am

In my experience it was always most important to speak with the most senior people possible. However, if there are multiple people within your possible network such as alumni who know each other, I think it is best to start with the younger people at the firm. This is true especially if you are confident in your ability to sound social, knowledgeable, and you get it like others have said. It's much easier to get a senior person to vouch for you if one or two juniors passed you along to him with a good recommendation rather than reaching out with a cold email.

May 22, 2015 - 8:49pm

I once ran OCR at an EB. As an analyst, I had the ability to get someone a superday invite if I stood up for them, but from that point on, they had to earn it for themselves. At the end of the day, my opinion was trusted by the senior members of the group, but the group head made all of the decisions and his decision was typically based on his one thirty minute conversation with a candidate... and as a result had nothing to do with technical capabilities.

If you're technically capable, it doesn't matter who you contact. That being said, if you have something in common with a senior member, leverage it.

Play the long game - give back, help out, mentor - just don't ever forget where you came from. #Bootstrapped
May 22, 2015 - 8:50pm

Who to target for investment banking networking?? (Originally Posted: 04/05/2017)

Im finishing up my 2nd year, and was curious who to target when going about networking this summer to best position myself for recruitment in the fall? Ill be working on Bay street, so Ill be in prime position to be able and do 2-5 coffees a week. Should I focus my attention on alumnae in analyst/associate roles, or people in higher roles? Thanks, any help would be greatly appreciated

May 22, 2015 - 8:55pm

Networking - Seniority Level to Target (Originally Posted: 07/14/2012)

I will be graduating this year and am very intent on pursuing a career in Asset Management. Given the lack of structured entry-level programs in the industry, I realize the importance of aggressive networking here. Fortunately I have found some great people to reach out to through linkedin and my university alumni database, and have some solid internship experience in the field. In some cases I have found multiple people within the same firm ranging from analyst through CIO. I am at a fairly small non-target and so I feel the urge to help could be strong. My question is, in this sort of instance, who should I be reaching out to for informal interviews? My thinking is that more senior people (CIO, Director of Research, senior PMs) will have more pull if they end up liking me, but at the same time I am afraid that they would be less likely to respond/have time for this sort of thing than analysts. In the past I did manage to get an internship through a junior analyst, but with a small sub-manager. This is actually my first post, but I have been reading the site for a few years now. I am interested to hear what you all think. Thanks.

May 22, 2015 - 8:57pm

WHO to network out to first on the IBD Ladder? (Originally Posted: 03/08/2012)

Hi All,

I'm a current midwest sophomore with a non-IB related internship this summer. I'm aiming for an IBD SA position for 2013. While I'm in the city for the summer, I'm looking to start networking to my non-target school's alumni. I've made a list full of analysts, associates, VPs, and a couple MDs. Most of the analysts are '09-'11 grads. 33% of the list work in BBs, while the rest are in MM and boutiques.

My question is who do I contact out to first? (Do I start with the recent '10-'11 analysts or should I aim for '05-'09 people who are more experienced? Who is the most valuable person to reach out to?)

Thanks to anyone who can help!

May 22, 2015 - 9:00pm

Recruiting/Networking Analysts, Associates, or MD's? (Originally Posted: 12/06/2012)

When I attend info sessions or look at my campus career network page, I usually aim for the analysts in networking because I hear they are the ones who pick the interviewees in the candidate pool.

Is this true? How much pull do Analysts/MD's have in getting me an interview? I feel like if I reached out to an MD he would give me a bunch of info but wouldn't really fight for me to get an interview, whereas with an analyst, being much closer to the selection process, he/she would be able to put me in the candidate pool.

Any info or help is appreciated.
Thanks in advance.

pic unrelated

Han Lee
May 22, 2015 - 9:04pm

Who is more willing to talk to you, VPs or Associates? (Originally Posted: 05/24/2012)

I wanted to get opinions of people here. I am sure many of you have cold emailed VPs and Associates before. Which is more likely to email you or take a call from you?

May 22, 2015 - 9:05pm

It has been my experience that associates are the best to e-mail. They are usually more willing to give you time than senior bankers are, and they are at the bank for the long run (analysts you network with may leave before FT even starts).

May 22, 2015 - 9:07pm

Associates are will usually be post MBA people with some decent experience....VP very rare, but I met a few...MD pretty much never

Do what you want not what you can!
May 22, 2015 - 9:08pm

what level banker should you network with? (Originally Posted: 10/18/2006)

I have a relative who graduated from Harvard and is now working at Lehman for about a year. I'm not sure if he graduated from the MBA program or if its Harvard undergrad so most likely he's a 2nd year analyst or associate.

I'm supposed to be meeting up with him later on and basically I just wanna ask him questions about the field and show my interest in banking however I dont wanna ask him right away at least to help me get an internship. Do you guys think that as an analyst/associate he will be able to help me out with an internship/full time offer and can anyone who went through a similar situation please share there experiences in breaking into the field.
P.S I'm a first year student at Schulich, is it even common for american banks to hire canadians.

May 22, 2015 - 9:09pm

Depends on if he interviews directly or if he's respected as an analyst. But most likely, he'll need to be in good standing with his VP to vouch for you.

Dont' know anyone from Schulich, but know lots from Ivey.

May 22, 2015 - 9:10pm

I'm a relatively recent Schulich grad and now work with a small, private i-bank in Chicago. I am kind of an exception because the firm I work for also does very specialized modeling work for corporate clients and I technically work for our UK entity, being a citizen of the EU (although I spend a lot of time in Chi-town and NY).

I have a few buddies who got into US banks out of Canada, but they were all from McGill. Don't ask me, I don't get it either.

May 22, 2015 - 9:11pm

what level bankers do you network with? (Originally Posted: 10/18/2006)

I have a relative who graduated from either Harvard undergrad or MBa and is now working at Lehman(over a year) so he's either a 2nd year analyst or associate, not to sure which. Im supposed to meeting up with him in the near future so i basically just wanna show him my general interest in banking and not right off the bat asking him to get me internships. My question is will an analyst/associate be any help in getting that intern or full time offer? Do you have any tips for the future when i meet other people like this in the industry?(i have tons of relatives in banking for some reason, but none too high up at BB except a MD at RBC)

P.S im first year at Schulich

May 22, 2015 - 9:13pm

Networking with somebody too high-up? (C-level) (Originally Posted: 02/21/2012)

I just recently found out that a buddy of mine is related to a c-level exec at a well-known boutique. He's trying to put me in touch with him but as you can imagine it's extremely difficult to reach him.

How can I best utilize this opportunity? When I finally get a hold of him should I ask if he can refer me to some of the MDs he's close with or focus more on building a relationship with him? My end goal is to land an interview for a SA spot since it's getting so late and I don't really have any options left.

May 22, 2015 - 9:15pm
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