What's the best way to develop your own expert network?

numnum's picture
Rank: Senior Chimp | 26

Sell siders are paid to be on-call sources of information for investors.. but I think many would agree that successful investing should include some primary research from sources that are less biased. If you don't already have many pre-existing industry contacts or relationships, what's the best way to convince people to be a source of information? For instance, going to industry conferences (not sell side hosted ones, but professional industry ones) could be one way, but what value-add do you have as an equity analyst to give in return to an industry insider who has valuable info you want? I imagine a hypothetical conversation going something like, "hey I'm an analyst at a hedge fund and I'd really like to be able to call you up or visit you once in awhile to get a pulse on the state of the industry... in return I can like you give you.. umm.. some hot stock tips?!" It's not hard to get someone to agree to a phone call or a lunch, but developing them into a more useful contact seems challenging. Any anecdotes or advice from you guys who have successfully done this?

Comments (19)

Jun 20, 2015

If you're at college use professors, phd students etc.

Jun 23, 2015

Immerse yourself in the sector, and when the network begins to form, it feeds on itself.

Property - Have your broker set up meetings with the CBRE, JLL, Colliers, etc. people. Speak to property brokers, get the pulse of the market. We've gone so far as to pretending to be interested in buying a condo to get primary info.
Retail - Go to tradeshows. Launches and store openings are a good way to meet people, too (and count as research). Great way to meet people from unlisted firms who have less reason to give you biased info.

Get creative!

Jun 23, 2015

Pay them for inside information. Works 80% of the time every time.

Jun 28, 2015

This is a great question and I'm interested to hear other answers. One potential value add you bring in these situations is that if you have several of these contacts you can make it more of a two-way street (e.g. "this is what I've been hearing, but wanted to hear your take on it", etc.). Getting these networks started though is a bit of a chicken-or-the-egg problem though.

Jun 28, 2015
Jun 30, 2015

Very good question and topic for discussion.

I saw an interview with Mohnish Pabrai a while back where he talked about his entrepreneurial clients acting as his 'analysts' ...whenever he has a question pertaining to an industry he doesn't understand, he reaches out to them for insight. Win-win situation.

Jun 30, 2015

I agree with the two-way street approach. You don't have to open up the kimono, only enough to tease. Drop something that may interest him or her, but make sure you do the work beforehand.

At the same time, don't forget to follow-up with people and thank them for their time; you'll be surprised how many people just get the information and piss off - you want a long term relationship, don't make it a one night stand.

I like to keep in touch every 6 months or so. It's not enough time to be forgotten but you hope there's something meaningful to discuss than what might occur if you're in contact every month. Industries don't change that rapidly.

Jun 30, 2015

are you in a frat?
try networking through that

happy to give advice; no asking for referrals please

Jun 30, 2015

You've come to the right place - lots of tips on the forum on how to network

It's hip to be square!

Jun 30, 2015

This might sound a bit strange, your immediate friends/colleagues/bosses are the strongest contacts. They will always pick up your call and tell you what they really think. They can make introduction as well. That's how you expand your network.

Cold-calling needs skills or a skill. You need to click with them (for them to remember you).

If you are thinking about a career on the sell-side, you need to gradually build and look after your contacts. Be an interesting person and be nice. There are a few mega debt or equity public placements. In those deals, it's a sellers' market. But in most cases, ECM and DCM (and loans), all are a buyers' market. Those who work on the buy-side will tell you how many information memorandums they receive each week (I can't even tell you how many NDA requests they receive each week).

The same thing happens in alternative investment. PE/VC firms receive so many that they can't respond to all of them. They take a quick look and if a project doesn't fit their investment criteria (even a little bit), they will give you a template rejection email. Now if you know someone, they will take a longer look at the project. This won't prevent them from turning down the project, but they will spend more time on reading/understanding your proposal.

Jun 30, 2015

Since full-time recruiting for first year analysts are over at the bulge brackets, I would do a search on career sites for open positions at middle market or boutique investment banks. If you do find an open position, do a linkedin search and try to reach out to a current analyst or associate there. Since you're interested in IB, i would suggest trying all methods (reaching out to alumni/family/friends in the industry, cold calling/getting in touch with recruiters, etc) before devoting all your time to pursuing an MBA. You may get lucky and find an open spot at a boutique/middle market investment bank.

Jun 30, 2015

whoever is willing to speak with you

Jun 30, 2015


Jun 30, 2015

Just used linkedin..etc to reach out to alumni. Do good internships. No one is going to ding you for being an econ major

Jun 30, 2015

I just graduated from a similar situation as you. I wouldn't put too much stock into those presentations, there's just too many people surrounding the attendees from the banks for you to be able to get any good networking time anyways. That being said, I would still put in the time and go, but just don't expect too much from it.

I would focus more of my time on reaching out to alumni (either through the school's mentor network or through LinkedIn). CAS econ grads will be more receptive to you since they came from a similar background.

Jun 30, 2015