Skills or tips about learning how to network for a HS senior?

Hey all,

Currently a HS senior who got deferred from Wharton and is only currently guaranteed for IU Kelley. Hoping to get into Ross, but need some advice on building up really solid networking skills if I don't end up going to a target (and even if I do).

I've never really networked before so what are some ways to learn how to network effectively?

I get using LinkedIn, and inviting people for coffee or whatnot, but what sort of things should you discuss? What should you be asking or saying to people when you first reach out. How do you "build" a relationship and then leverage for a career it later?

What is or was your guys "networking process"?

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Comments (32)

Jan 3, 2021 - 9:43pm

I mean its not like I'm gonna learn how to do any of this stuff in college magically. Might aswell get some basics down now, especially considering with quarantine and remote learning that I have nothing better to do at all.

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  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Jan 3, 2021 - 10:33pm

Assumedly your Pakistani and/or American dad got laid at least once. Ask him how he pulled it off and try to replicate.

In the interim, download Tinder and swipe right on every profile. It's a numbers game, and you're going to need a lot more at-bats if you want to start getting on base. 

A word of advice - dating, hookups, etc. is only going to get harder once you're out of school, no matter what bank you work at. So start giving life a shot now. 

Jan 3, 2021 - 10:37pm

He pulled it off with arranged (although loving) marriage in Pakistan. Lol. I'm really not too concerned about dating or romance. I just want to make enough money early on that I might have the chance to retire early and comfortably. Or get a nest egg big enough that I can go into public school teaching being financially secure.

Sorry for giving you my life story, lmao

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Jan 3, 2021 - 10:42pm

In the interim, download Tinder and swipe right on every profile. It's a numbers game, and you're going to need a lot more at-bats if you want to start getting on base. 

lmao you have absolutely no idea what the online dating market is like these days, grandpa

  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Jan 3, 2021 - 11:30pm

I'm 24.

While I'm sure there's a later/greater app or strategy these days, the above worked for me in (early) 2020 just like it did when I was a "Prospect IB-M&A" in 2015.

But by all means, let OP know what kids these days are up to. He could use the help, and I'll shamelessly take notes.

  • Intern in IB - Ind
Jan 3, 2021 - 10:08pm

Normally I'd say to just chill this summer, but considering you probably can't travel and stuff this year, it would help if you learned some basic accounting (the three statements as in how they tie into each other and what their significance is) as well as just what a DCF/TVM is and maybe how to do a basic one if you're so inclined to. Even that is a bit much at your stage, but if you really want to, then go for it. There are some great resources online. 

I would also recommend researching what an investment bank actually is and what it's goals are and how the different divisions (IB, S&T, ER, etc...) all tie into each other. Simply knowing what investment banking is will put you ahead of most people at your stage.

In terms of networking, I really would recommend waiting until you actually start school. There are very, very few people who would be willing to speak to a high school senior who hasn't even committed to a college yet, and I don't think you would be lucky enough to come across them. 

Once you actually start school, then you can send out cold emails. I did this as a freshman, but only got one person on the phone my entire first semester vs dozens my second semester. A lot of people don't really want to bother with people so far away from the recruiting cycle. If you do get people on the phone, just ask them about how they got to their position, what they like about their bank and their group specifically, and what advice they may have for freshman at your school. It's also nice to talk about non finance things. Maintaining relationships at this point will also be a challenge because you have really no reason to contact them other than to just catch up. I would reach back up just to chat and catch up again maybe once in the next semester, then more closer to recruiting. Some bankers really only like to talk about recruiting but others are totally willing to just catch up for whatever reason and just chat.

Jan 3, 2021 - 10:12pm

Thanks for actual advice. I did follow a pretty good YouTube series on doing DCFs for investments, but without actively practicing I can't repeat one off of the top of my head. I learned most of the basic income statement and balance sheet and cash flows for my own investing, but probably need to go over the ratios again.

Yeah I realized I might of exuded the impression that I was gonna start networking NOW 😅, but I just wanted to get the gist of HOW to do it, I understand no one is going to seriously discuss anything at my level lol.

Jan 11, 2021 - 7:57am

Step 1: Breathe. You are in high school and thus unqualified and uninteresting to most professionals that aren't family friends (no offense)

Step 2: Improve yourself. Use this time to improve your skills in anything. It can be 'professional' like Excel, Powerpoint, Tableau, Power BI, or Python, less 'professional' like violin, a new language, or a new sport. Don't knock the non-professional skills, because those are HUGE conversation starters and make you seem a lot more interesting to your potential networking contacts.

Step 3: Have a nice LinkedIn that is simple, clean, and professional (just like your haircut should be!). Please, for the love of god, do not constantly post or annoy people. 

Step 4: After the first three steps AND you have committed to a school, you can start to reach out to people that you have an existing connection with, for example high school alums. Right now you are in the exploratory phase, and you should treat it as such. Don't go straight to the JP and MS connections unless you already know them personally. If you want to jump the gun on networking, then you can reach out to alums of Wharton, IU, and Ross to ask about their experiences at the school as you make your decision. Don't skip a step and ask about breaking into IB, one step at a time. I would never take a call from an undecided HS senior that didn't know what school that they were going to but wanted to get into IB. I might take a call from a HS senior who wanted to ask about what my college experience was to make a decision. 

In terms of how to network, it's practice practice practice. If your response rate from cold emailing is 1 in 20, you're doing good. The first five to ten will be awkward (so don't meet with your 'target' contacts). Keeping semi-regular contact with the people you chat with and not making it feel like your using them just for a potential referral is key. 

I get a lot of people who slide into my LinkedIn (I've done both IB and MBB consulting) and I will only look at messages that are from my alma mater or actually take the time to write me a personalized message (without being creepy) about why they want to talk to me. It's not arrogance, it just the basic concept that if you take time for me, I will take time for you in return. 

Also, I went to IU for financial reasons, it has a great program and a strong showing in all major fields. Obviously Wharton is going to be stronger in NYC, but we do alright in the city! 

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