Why I Enjoy Networking with Candidates

Mod Note (Andy) - as the year comes to an end we're reposting the top discussions from 2015, this one ranks #41 and was originally posted 7/29/2015.

I thought I'd write a networking post from a different perspective. We often see advice on WSO from people who are undergrads or recent hires with advice on how to network into the industry (good fresh perspectives from people who have recently navigated "the system"). I wanted to give a bit of insight from a different perspective as someone on the other side who participates in looking for talent: This is why I enjoy networking and how I think about it.

"I want to find the next 'me'."


I've noticed everyone I've ever met who participates in recruiting is a bit biased in this regard. We like hiring people who resemble us. For me, I respond very well to people who are highly technical and comfortable with numbers. I have a tendency to geek out. I fully acknowledge there is much more to IBD than this, but this is my soft spot. For others it's being a varsity athlete. Another favourite is school backgrounds (If I can be so bold as to say: you Americans love it when you see someone from the same school, especially non-targets).


My Advice: People are much more responsive if you have some kind of hook. If your initial contact is too "copy and paste" it risks fading into the background. The best cold callers I've seen are the ones who take a few extra minutes to customize the email by doing a quick LinkedIn creep to find a common thread.

"I want to be here."


The job is hard. The hours are long. I like networking with potential candidates because it always reminds me how lucky I am to be here. When I went to MBA school, I got to know a bunch of smart, hard working people who didn't get the chance to be here. They were brilliant, highly qualified, and wanted the job (and could probably easily do it). But it is a selective field and they just didn't get the opportunity for whatever reason (didn't click with an interviewer, had an off day etc.) I like networking because I like seeing smart, hard working, eager and ambitious people put their hand up and say: "I want to be here."


My Advice: Be positive, eager and do your homework in advance. Spend the time to have a good idea of what you are potentially getting into and make good use of people's time by asking thoughtful questions.

"I want you to be here."


I doesn't really matter what level you are in the IBD food chain (including / especially if you are on the outside wanting to get in). A simple rule to improve your chances of success: be the person who people want to work with. Be the person who people say: "I want to work with X, because (s)he's awesome and makes my life easier." Doesn't matter if you are a:
- Candidate ==> be sought after by a bank / team
- Junior Banker ==> be sought after by an Officer
- Officer ==> be sought after by an MD
- MD ==> be sought after by a client


My Advice: There is always someone you should be trying to impress. You want the person to walk away with the feeling that they want you on their team. You want someone to bang on the table for you. Even if you are "in" this is important come bonus / promo time.

Hopefully, you find this helpful as you craft your interactions with people at different firms. SB's for any other useful tips, especially from people who are in the enviable position of being on the recruiting / hiring side of the table.

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Comments (16)

Jul 30, 2015 - 9:34am

This post was meant to be a bit more philosophical rather than tactical, because sometimes it's hard to know the details of how to express these ideas. You just have to be really thoughtful of your audience. But if I could focus on one trait, it would be ATTITUDE.

It's a hard thing to explain (and each person "sees" it differently). The two reasons this job is attractive is because: 1. It pays very well 2. Your career acceleration trajectory is fairly steep

The career trajectory is steep because you learn valuable skills in a short period of time. But you have to pay for it through hours and development of professional maturity (credibility is a powerful currency, but unfortunately, we don't have much when we're younger). The only thing I've seen that consistently gets people through it is a good attitude.

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Best Response
Jul 29, 2015 - 6:59pm

I've always figured that associates and VPs especially are looking for someone like them. Like Harvey looking for Mike.

Common ground + common ambitions and a bit of impressing = great networking experience.

"It is better to have a friendship based on business, than a business based on friendship." - Rockefeller. "Live fast, die hard. Leave a good looking body." - Navy SEAL
  • 3
Jul 30, 2015 - 12:09am

Proof canadians are nicer than americans

(i'm an american)

What is the answer to 99 out of 100 questions?
Aug 1, 2015 - 11:51pm

Bull, hard to prove that and I'm Canadian. I think in general, my experience is that Cdns like to play it safe (I.e not rock the boat), whereby Americans say what needs to be said. My preference is the latter.

Toolatun, BCom Analyst (2+ years) PE/Mgmt Consulting Firm (a Bain Capital portfolio company) Ontario, Canada
Sep 22, 2015 - 5:16pm

you my friend were born in the wrong country, i've hope you've made it south

What is the answer to 99 out of 100 questions?
Jul 31, 2015 - 3:18am
TorontoMonkey1328:
I've noticed everyone I've ever met who participates in recruiting is a bit biased in this regard. We like hiring people who resemble us. For me, I respond very well to people who are highly technical and comfortable with numbers. I have a tendency to geek out. I fully acknowledge there is much more to IBD than this, but this is my soft spot. For others it's being a varsity athlete. Another favourite is school backgrounds (If I can be so bold as to say: you Americans love it when you see someone from the same school, especially non-targets).

My Advice: People are much more responsive if you have some kind of hook. If your initial contact is too "copy and paste" it risks fading into the background. The best cold callers I've seen are the ones who take a few extra minutes to customize the email by doing a quick LinkedIn creep to find a common thread.

Roughly, what are the kinds of topics you cover during these conversations? Another thing is, wouldn't you feel creeped out by candidates who know a bit too much about you? And how would candidates zero in on which recruiters in an organisation to customise their emails to?

Aug 3, 2015 - 9:00am

Good question. I want to get to know people and their motivations. If someone says they like the type of work, I might be tempted to get a bit technical. When I say technical, one of things I like to ask people is why they want to do this and what have they been doing to prepare. I'll often do a light technical interview. You'd be surprised how many people fall apart immediately.

As for creeping, after I put up this post, I was PM'd basically the same question. Emails should be short and sweet, but can also be thoughtful. Here was a quick example I gave:

*** Start ***

Hi X,

I noticed that you also went to school and are now working in NYC. I'm also from Toronto and really interested in making the move to New York. I was wondering if you might be free for coffee so I could pick your brain on a few things that I think you are uniquely able to answer from your personal experience.

Let me know of any times that work for you.

Regards,
Me

*** End ***

As for zeroing in, that's the million dollar question. I think it's something you figure out after you've done a bunch of networking.

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