There is a great deal of power and good that can come out of expanding your budding professional network, though, for many, the idea of reaching out to complete strangers over the internet requesting their time and attention can feel a bit uncomfortable.
Students interested in breaking into the world of finance often wonder what’s the best way to do it in this candidate saturated industry, where everyone you’ll likely be reaching out to already works long hours on tight deadlines with a lot of pressure and why would they want to do you any favors anyway...!? Throughout our collective years of experience, we’ve discovered that as it turns out, people generally like helping other people — even bankers.
To that end, we put together a guide dedicated specifically to effective networking in the financial industry. We recommend doing these things early and often throughout your time at school.
One of the easiest ways to gain some insight into what the summer analyst experience is like is to talk to someone who just went through it. You can use LinkedIn to do this — search“Summer Analyst” and filter by your school. Look at those profiles that have it as their “current” role or those who say they are an “Incoming Summer Analyst.” If your school has a database of student email addresses, use that to send them a note. Feel free to reach out in more informal ways too, such as Instagram or Facebook.
You can use the same method above to determine which alumni work in the field. Find those who have an analyst position as one of their “past” roles, or you can see which ones are currently employed as associates, directors, or VPs, though you may have more traction with folks who are more junior.
To narrow it down, you can filter by industry based on the area you are interested in: Banking, Investment Banking, Investment Management, Capital Markets or Financial Services (unfortunately that’s as granular as it gets on LinkedIn right now). Note that your tone here should be more professionally elevated than the conversations you have with upper-level students. This is also a great way to learn about different firms you may not have heard of before. If you can afford it, reaching out to them with an in-mail on LinkedIn may be effective, but you can also try figuring out the particular formula that firm uses for email addresses and plug in their first and last names to fit the combination.
Professors teaching at a business school often have years of experience in the business world, which is why it’s important to treat them like you would any other professional relationship. Ask them for their advice on getting connected to someone who has gone through this process before, or see if they have any industry relationships that they think may be helpful and ask for an introduction.
This is the big one. In the world of finance, it's commonplace to receive cold emails from students looking to get connected and learn more. But because bankers get inundated with these emails every year, it’s important that you do your best to stand out in their inbox. Here are the things we suggest you do and don’t do.
No matter how casual a coffee or call may feel, you should still consider it an informational interview. These types of meetings will allow bankers to evaluate your soft skills in a low-pressure environment, so you should feel free to be yourself and demonstrate your personality in a way that is still professional. To be safe, assume they will come with no prepared questions for you, so you should show up ready to engage them and steer the conversation. Here are some things we recommend asking and not asking:
First, send them an email after and say thanks. Later, you should follow up with a specific ask within the next 3-6 months. If you apply for a role, ask if there is anything you can do to stand out and get noticed. This will prompt your new connection to do something IF they feel motivated enough. If you decide their firm isn’t the best fit, follow up and ask a specific question as to not be forgotten. If you get a job elsewhere, let them know how it’s going.