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So you’ve heard networking is important in the field of finance, especially when it comes to industries like investment banking.

I mean, everyone says it is… but what does that even mean?

And more importantly — how do you do it?

Today I’m going to explain why networking is key, and how to do it.

This is the networking approach we have our students use to get responses from high level people in finance. I’m talking about vice presidents and managing directors — in finance fields like private equity, asset management and of course, investment banking.

Look. I want to see you succeed. Like, now. So let’s get to it!

For your visual learners, check out our video on the topics as well:

Table Of Contents

  1. Investment Banking + Networking
  2. How To Find People
  3. Structuring Emails
  4. Phone Call Questions
  5. Get Interviews

 

Networking In Finance — Why Care?

So. If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’re having a hard time getting an interview.

Why?

Maybe you’re going through LinkedIn or Indeed and you’re just clicking a bunch of random job applications.

Sending your resume to 50+ employers, thinking that the odds are in your favor, but still not getting any bites.

Do you honestly think you’re going to hear back just by sending in a piece of paper? Unless you have the following, you’re probably not going to hear back.

  • A perfect 4.0 GPA
  • Ivy League credentials
  • Two years of experience in an investment banking Internship

And that’s the problem. When you apply online you’re being defined by one piece of paper.

People don’t know you and they’re never going to know your story unless you actually get to talk to them.

You need an opportunity to let your personality and drive overshadow your weaknesses.

And most importantly, you need to get your face in front of people that actually matter. Those that have influence in the companies you’re interested in, and the power to help you get a position.

Why is Networking So Effective in Finance?

If you’re networking with people in investment banking, asset management, private equity, or any kind of really solid tier one job, you’re making solid connections that will benefit you in the long run.

These people work in the departments or companies you’re interested in and can do the following things for you:

  • Flag your resume in HR so your resume will get pushed to the top
  • Put in a good word to supervisors
  • Fill you in on positions you wouldn’t be privy to otherwise

If you have multiple people pushing for you, your odds of getting an interview are going to dramatically increase. And as you know, face to face meetings are vital.

Networking In The Finance World

In terms of time spent, it’s way more effective to network than it is to apply to a bunch of random, thoughtless jobs. But as with everything, there’s a right way and a wrong way. Here are the methods I’ve found to be tried and true.

Step #1 – Find The Right People

When you’re networking in finance you need to reach out to people that you have something in common with, or some sort of mutual connection. If you’re just cold calling or sending out random emails, you’re unlikely to get a response. To begin, let’s start with the following categories of people.Family Friends – If you have a family member or family friend in the field of investment banking, sales, or trading, consider yourself extremely lucky. This is the most ideal situation because you’re probably going to hear back from that person.

Alumni – One of the easiest ways to find people is to search where other alumni are employed. LinkedIn is very helpful for this (more on that soon).  Think of ways you can further solidify your connection with an alumnus. Maybe you were in the same fraternity or sorority. It’s possible you even participated in the same activities, maybe lacrosse or swim team, choir, etc.

This is how —

  1. First, head over to your LinkedIn account and search for the name of your University. For example, I searched for Boston University.  Once you’re on the university’s LinkedIn page, you should see a long list of the names of those who attended the university and have indicated this is where they went to college.
  2. From there we have a bunch of options to filter these alumni by. So, let’s say you’re someone that wants to work in Boston. So we want to target alumni that live in the greater Boston area.
  3. Then we’ll target them by:
  • Where they work
  • The industry they’re in
  • What they studied
  • Etc.

I recommend targeting them by what they do. Finance is a great way to do it, so you’ll get a bunch of alumni you can network with, who work in finance.

For example, let’s say we’re trying to target someone who works in investment banking. You can scroll through the alumni list down here and just kind of, keep going and keep going through, and then we can just pick an alumni to target.

So, we have this student here for example, that works in investment banking at Moelis. So, let’s say this is someone we want to network with. So, what’s our next steps? So, now that we know how to find alumni on LinkedIn that leads to our next step, which is step two, reaching out.

Step #2 – Reach Out

Before I show you what to put in your email templates, let’s talk about how networking in finance is a volume game.

A lot of students think they can reach out to 5, 10 people and that’s enough. Then they get discouraged when no one gets back to them. Look, no. Networking is a numbers game.

Especially if you’re networking in something like investment banking. They don’t want to talk to you. You’re a student. Right? Unfortunately, you’re not valuable to them. Which is why you have to increase your volume until you’ve reached enough people.

Now, before you start pumping emails out, get a list of 100 different alumni or family friends. (Or someone you may have something in common with.)

This is a list of 100 names you can reach out to. From that 100 maybe 25 will get back to you. And maybe halfish of the 25 will get on the phone with you. (Obviously your numbers could be better, but that’s kind of what I use as a standard.)

Now that brings me to my next point —

Networking in finance is an email-only kind of game. You could do LinkedIn messaging, but it’s not as effective as emailing. Why? Because a lot of higher ups in finance are older and they’re not going to be spending as much time on LinkedIn.

But people at banks are always checking their emails.Gmail is where it’s at. Don’t use your .EDU school address. Have a dedicated, professional Gmail to use when you’re reaching out to these people.

(NOTE: In some rarer cases, firms will ask for your .edu email instead, like JP Morgan)

Now you’re probably wondering, “Okay, if I can’t message people on LinkedIn how am I going to find their email address?” Easy. Let’s see how to do it with Moelis, like I mentioned before.

Let’s say we have an alumni at Moelis we want to reach out to.

It’s pretty easy to figure out what someone’s email is. All you have to do is figure out the way each company structures their email templates. If we’re trying to find what someone’s email at Moelis is, we just head over to their website.

From there, find someone’s contact info within the organization. Take note of how the email address is structured.

In the Moelis site, I find an employee’s email and it’s structured like so:

First name last name@Moelis.com.

Now I apply that to the alumni I want to touch base with.

Done deal. It’s literally that easy.

Plus, if you’re not sure if it’s actually a good email, all you have to do is go to Google and basically search or email test it.

Tons of services will let you paste in an email address to see if it actually works.

So, now that we know how to find alumni’s email addresses, it’s time to put together our outreach emails.

This is absolutely critical to get right. When you’re networking in finance and especially in investment banking, you need to do this properly.

Here’s some tips to keep you on the straight and narrow:

  • Make it short and sweet. People in investment banking, asset management or any kind of competitive tier one type job, are busy. They don’t have time to read your life story or give a shit about it in the first place. KISS — Ok you’re not stupid, but Keep it simple.

  • Never ever blatantly ask for a job or an internship. I’ve actually seen students do this and it blows my mind. They don’t know you. So they won’t help you. That’s why you need to have your phone call, to focus on them first. Get them to tell their story, stroke their ego a little, then ask later (more on that soon).

  • Never attach your resume in an email. Think about it. If you’re attaching your resume in an email, you’re pretty much asking for the job. Unless someone’s asked for your resume, don’t do it.

Structure your email like this.

  • Start off with a little bit about yourself
  • Talk about your major or what internship you’re currently doing right now
  • Briefly mention how you stumbled upon their profile or whatever it is
  • At the end ask 5 to 10 minutes of their time to talk about their background, their experiences and some career advice.

And in a little bit I’ll show you exactly how to put these emails together. Last but not least, another interesting thing we’ve covered with some students is figuring out,

“When should you actually send the email?

And,

When is the best time to get the best responses?”

  • Tuesdays and Wednesdays. They’re usually the best days. The start of the week is usually a bad idea because people have lots of emails to sift through, from the weekend. And Friday is an even worse idea…because it’s well, Friday.
  • Between 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM is usually best. They’re tired, usually wanting to procrastinate, maybe even get a coffee. From what we’ve seen, this is when you get the best response rates.

Okay, so putting together your networking email should be pretty straightforward. Remember, the whole idea here is to keep it short and simple. Just ask to get them on the phone for some career advice.

Example #1  

Here’s an example we had a student use to reach out to alumni in investment banking. He happened to be interning at a boutique investment bank for the summer, and was starting to reach out for full-time opportunities. So, again, pretty simple. Here’s his process.

The Intro:

So, first off, let’s start with the intro. If he was reaching out to a younger person, let’s say an analyst that just graduated, he would address them by their first name. Maybe “Hello Katie,” or “Hi Katie.”

If he was reaching out to someone a fair amount older than himself, he would use something more formal such as, “Dear, Mr. X.”

The Body of the Email:

From there he gave a little description of himself, “I am currently interning with Bank A, a boutique investment bank focused on M&A advisory, and am very interested in working in full-time investment banking. I’m currently a rising senior at UGA and found your LinkedIn while searching UGA alumni in investment banking.”

“I wanted to reach out to you to see if you’d be willing to talk about your experience at Sun Trust and how you started working in the industry over a brief phone call.” One sentence. Easy, simple, and describes exactly what he’s looking for.

Last but not least, “If you have any availability I would appreciate 5 to 10 minutes to chat over the phone, thank you so much in advance.” Again, super simple, super quick, takes five seconds for the person to read. If you time it right and a person seems helpful they’ll get back to you.

Another really important thing to cover here is the headline. Basically, if you’re reaching out to an alumni, put your school name plus “student seeking career advice.” So, that way if it’s alumni they’re going to recognize it right off the bat.

Example #2

Same kind of idea here — “Baruch student seeking career advice.” This time the person was older, so they addressed them as, “Dear Mr. Crane. I am currently a sophomore at Baruch College studying financial mathematics.” This student didn’t have an internship yet, so they described themselves by their major, “I am very interested in Point72 and a career in the investment industry. I came across your profile on LinkedIn while looking for Baruch alumni at the firm and I would very much like to learn more about your background, your experience as a trader, and your experience with the CFA program.”

Put a little bit of a personal touch on there to make it more relevant. “If you have any availability I would greatly appreciate some time to speak with you, either over the phone or over some coffee. Thank you again for your time and I look forward to hearing from you soon.” Again, short, sweet, gets to the point.

On thing I want to mention, if you have a referral I would mention it somewhere in the first sentence. Briefly say who you are and who referred you, and I would also mention that in the subject line too.

So, for example,I would change it to something like, “Bobby X referral. UGA student seeking career …” Something like that. That’s really all you need to do for these email templates. You don’t need to over complicate them.

Again, quick read, so you’re not taking up a bunch of people’s time. They’re not interested in reading tons of text.

Step #3 – Phone Call

Step number three is a phone call. Your goal is to do whatever you can to get these people to like you.

Because if they like you, they’re going to be a lot more willing to help you out at the end game:

  • Getting your resume flagged
  • Putting in a good word for you
  • Giving you a little bit of an advantage (hopefully) in terms of getting an interview
  • They’ll probably even give you the name of someone else to talk to as a referral, which is great because when you have a referral the chances of that person responding are really, really high.

But again, networking in finance is tough. Especially networking in investment banking. When you go into these calls, be ready. The other guy might be a total dick. It happens. Kind of a lot.

Some will be nice and helpful. And you might also run into a grade-A douche, here and there. They’ll suck, and want to get off the phone ASAP. It is what it is.

That’s why I said networking is a volume game. So when that happens, you move on. Do your best to think of the asshat who just hung up on you as an empty number. Then, forget about it. Don’t let yourself care.

So.

What do you do prior to these calls?

1) Do your research on these people:

  • Stalk them on LinkedIn
  • Find out about their background
  • Find out about their career
  • Find out if they were in sports in college — great talking point.
  • Get as much info and do as much research on these people as you can.

That way, you’ll be armed to the teeth with an arsenal of questions. Now, what kinds of questions do you actually ask on these calls? Depends. You have to feel a person out on the call. You’ll never know what their personality is ahead of time.

#2) Find Things In Common

Your goal is to CONNECT with the person.

You want them to like you, so you need to ask questions that will help you find a common ground that you both can relate to.

So whatever you do, you need to find things in common as quickly as you can on the call

#3) Know The Market

Here’s the thing:

If you don’t follow the market, or aren’t educated on the finance space, why are you even bothering with networking?

Even if you get an interview, you won’t be knowledgable enough to get past a technical interview

So don’t bother starting to network unless you actually know your shit.

That’s why we have students in our ILTS Analyst Program wait until they are at least halfway through before starting their networking push

Because if you dont even have basic knowledge on something as simple as a discounted cash flow model, you won’t sound very smart on your call

At the same point, stay up to date on the market.

We have a sparknotes style newsletter, The Breakfast Check, we send out every morning to students to give you a 30 second rundown of what’s going on in the market.

That way its a quick and easy way to stay up-to-date on trends (you can subscribe here for free)

#4) Get The Conversation Started

The best way to start the conversation?

First, thank them for taking the time out of their busy day to talk to you.

Then, ask them something about how things are going with their job.

If you’re talking to someone in investment banking and you want a good icebreaker, ask about one of the craziest deals they’ve ever worked on.

They’ll probably have a great example they could go on all day about. That’ll build rapport, loosen things up and lead into a bunch of other things.

Again, this is why it’s important to actually know what’s going on in the market. If you dont follow the market, or aren’t educated on it, you’ll never be able to hold a good conversation.

You want to establish that commonality as early as you can. So if they are a younger alum, you can start talking about their experience going through the recruiting process to land their job.

From there you need to be ready and able to go off on tangents and ask other questions.

Here are some other things you can ask:

  • What’s one of the craziest deals you’ve ever worked on?
  • Who are some of the most interesting people you’ve got to meet on the job?
  • How did you handle going through the recruiting process back in school? (for younger alumni)
  • What made you pursue (enter job here) over a different field?
  • If you had to do one thing different in your career, what would it be? (for older people)
  • If you had to give one piece of advice to an incoming college freshman, what would it be?
  • What was it like handling school and playing a sport at the same time? (for previous student athletes)
  • What was the biggest thing you did that ended up jumpstarting your career?
  • What’s your take on {insert even here} going on in the market? (make this specific to the person’s industry)
  • If you were a college student now, would you go down the same career path that you did? (for older people)
  • How have things changed in {enter industry/job here} over time? (for older people)
  • How do you thing {school name}’s {sport} team is going to do this year? (for anyone you can tell follows sports heavy)

I can go on and on.

You want to get the other person talking — a lot. Let’s face it. People like the sound of their own voice. They like talking, and if you’re asking good questions, they’ll give good answers, which makes them sound good and feel good and like you a lot better.

Here’s a caveat though. If you’re doing all this networking work but you don’t understand their job or their industry, you’re going to ask dumb questions. If you ask dumb questions, you’ll sound dumb, and they’ll think (know) you’re dumb, which singlehandedly defeats the purpose.Be smart. Know your stuff before you trudge your happy ass into this minefield.

If you don’t have the market knowledge, study, research, learn it. And get some experience with this kind of stuff ahead of time. That way you know you’re asking the right types of questions.

And you’ll sound smart when you’re asking them, because people can tell by the way you ask.

Proper prior planning prevents piss-poor performance. Right?

Prep. Ask killer questions. Keep your eyes peeled for common ground and use it to connect. Have fun with it.

At the end of the call?

Two things.

If the call went fairly well — ask them this:

“Hey, I know your bank occasionally hires interns or full-time analysts, do you recommend I do anything to improve my chances of actually landing the role?”

If the person likes you, they might ask for your resume, give you some pointers or something. Hopefully they’ll ask for your resume, send it over to HR and get it flagged. That boosts your chances of landing an interview.

But sometimes that doesn’t happen, and sometimes there are no roles available.

In those cases — no matter how the call goes — always try to get a referral. Because when you have a referral the chances of that person responding to you are really, really high.

Just say something like this:

“Hey, thanks again for your time today. I really appreciate you taking the time out of your busy day to talk with me. By any chance, do you happen to know of anybody else that would be a really, really good resource to learn from and ask great questions?”

Usually they’ll give you the name of someone else within the department, or who knows, maybe someone else they know at another company. You never know. But what you do know is, you can keep the networking going because of that referral.

Otherwise, you’ll eventually run out of alumni. Always ask for referrals so you can keep the process going.

Step #4 – Follow Up

So, last but not least we have step four, which is the follow up.

No matter what, after every one of your calls you ALWAYS want to send a brief thank you email.  Again, short and sweet. All you need to do is thank the person for taking the time out of their busy day to talk to you.  You could even put in a sentence about something personal you guys talked about on the call. But no more than that. You’ve got to keep it simple.

Now you might be wondering, “What if I talked to this person and there’s no positions or internships available?” or “There will be in a few months, but how does that help me?”

Sometimes you have to play a little bit of a waiting game. Let’s say in a couple of months, the internships are posted and you see a full-time analyst position available…that’s when you reach out again! You can say something like, “Hey Nick, how’s everything been? Just wanted to let you know that I applied to the internship in ______ department.” Or, “I applied to the full-time position in ______ department and I just wanted to see if you have any tips or recommendations that could improve my chances of landing an interview?”More than likely, they’ll either ask for your resume and pass it along to HR or pass it along to someone in the department themselves. This definitely increases your chances of getting the interview.

If you’ve talked to multiple people within this department, use that to your advantage. Reach out to each and every one of them. Better yet, let them know that you applied. Having multiple people on the inside is a major advantage. Hopefully they’re mentioning your name, or even passing your resume on to HR.

Final Thoughts

This is why networking in finance is so effective. When you have multiple people pushing for you, your odds of actually getting an interview are really, really high. From there, it’s just a matter of nailing that interview, and showing that you know your stuff.  

Remember, if you found this article helpful feel free to like and subscribe to us by clicking the links below!

If you’re looking for more advanced strategies like landing roles in investment banking, networking, preparing for interviews, etc, feel free to head over to our site at tier1wallstreet.com. We go deep into topics like this — if you liked this one, you’ll love it there.

 

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