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The Ultimate Guide For Investment Banking Networking Tips & Tricks

September 22, 2021

So how can investment banking professionals use networking to score their dream job at an investment bank and improve their network of industry professionals? Let’s explore why networking is so essential in the investment banking industry. 

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Use These Industry Secrets To Make Your Networking Efforts Effective 

The topic of investment banking networking for junior bankers is polarizing. Some senior bankers feel it is crucial to a successful job search, while others think it is a waste of time

Naturally, the answer lies somewhere between these two trains of thought. 

Networking is highly effective if you do it over a long period and keep the endgame in mind. But if you don’t use best practices or are inconsistent, you’ll never see the fruits of your labor. 

So how can investment banking professionals use networking to score their dream job at an investment bank and improve their network of industry professionals? 

Let’s take a look at what networking is, why it is essential, and how to sharpen your skills for networking success. 

What Is Investment Banking Networking? 

As with any form of industry networking, investment banking networking is all about building relationships. 

It involves the actions of locating, contacting, and talking to investment banking professionals to form strong relationships, gain industry knowledge, and potentially secure entry-level internships, investment banking job offers, or other benefits from those connections. 

Remember that the goal of networking isn’t just about getting an offer but getting to know other investment bankers on a more personal level. 

Let’s explore why networking is so essential in the investment banking industry. 

 

The Importance Of Networking In The Investment Banking Industry 

The recruiting process is tough on both young professionals and the managing director responsible for hiring. 

Because it’s hyper-accelerated, you need to network to win internships before you can even think about applying to a junior-year summer internship with a large bank. 

With an abundance of students and banking professionals with similar work experience, networking is the most effective way to set yourself apart from the crowd

Recruiters are more likely to pull a resume for first-round interviews if they recognize the name. Networking helps you make a good impression and build personal relationships that show other investment bankers that you care about them more than just a potential boss. 

Tips And Tricks To Refine Your Investment Banking Networking Strategy 

There are three main strategies for investment banking networking: cold emailing or cold calling, informational interviews, and industry networking events. 

The most appropriate strategy for you depends on how much time there is before the internship or full-time recruiting process starts and which channels you have access to. 

Take a look at a breakdown of these three networking strategies to see which one is right for you. 

Strategy #1: Cold Calls Or Cold Emails 

This networking strategy involves asking for jobs or investment banking internships directly without being prompted to do so. 

It won’t be effective if you’re already working full time or are aiming for a position that uses a formalized recruiting process. 

Cold calling or sending cold emails works best if you are an undergrad looking for an internship at a smaller firm or an incoming MBA student looking to give yourself a leg up

This investment banking networking strategy is effective because bankers frequent their email inboxes all day long. If you send an email, they will see it regardless of if they respond at all. 

Cold emailing requires you to do some detective work and identify bankers at the firm you are interested in. You will need to guess their email addresses. Email a call request, then perform the actual cold call. 

If you choose this networking technique, remember the following tips for your phone call or email: 

  • Use An Email Template Or Make Notes For Your Call
  • Ask Directly About The Jobs Or Internships 
  • Focus On Possible Openings And Get To The Point 
  • If They Say No, Follow Up In A Few Months

If you target big banks, like Goldman Sachs, focus on senior bankers because they understand hiring needs and have more power. Also, make sure you have some relevant work experience.  

Strategy #2: Informational Interviews

These informative sessions involve meeting with investment bankers to learn about real-life experiences in the field. 

The best time to conduct informational interviews is 3-6 months before the recruiting process starts. 

It’s not a job interview but a way for you to gain information and build relationships while doing it. Here are some tips on how to organize an informational interview. 

  1. Find The LinkedIn Profiles Of Investment Bankers: Target junior to mid-level bankers for higher response rates. 
  2. Add Their Contact Information To A List: Maintaining an email list will help track who you contacted and when. Document dates so you can follow up appropriately. 
  3. Email The Person: Your email shouldn’t be more than five sentences. 
  4. Follow-Up: Formally request an informational interview and prepare to follow up 2-3 times. 
  5. Conduct The Interview: Prepare your interview questions ahead of time and spend your time listening intently and asking questions about the subject’s career. 
  6. Make A “Mini-Ask”: Drop a hint about wanting a future in-person meeting or if they can pass your resume along to the appropriate channels. 

Remember, successful information sessions are all about contacting the right people. Your response rate will likely be around 10-25%. You may end up speaking to 50-200 bankers and can expect 20-30 viable contacts from these networking interactions. 

Strategy #3: Leverage Your Alumni Network 

Alumni networks operate differently at every school. Some curate internal lists while others have their online networking bank, much like LinkedIn, but specifically to network within the college and alumni groups. 

Because internal referrals are challenging to get, and employees don’t typically support candidates they know much about. Networking with alumni is a great way to land an investment banking interview for an internship or entry-level position. 

Depending on which college, university, or business school you attended, find out what mechanisms they have available to contact alumni who went into investment banking. Reach out to your school’s Career Resource center: they will know exactly how to guide you. 

Once you have the contact information of an alumnus in your field of interest, start building relationships with them. Focus on authentic interactions. 

Avoid These Networking Mistakes 

Networking missteps can make your interaction memorable for the wrong reasons. Although common mistakes vary depending on which strategy you utilize, take a look at these common networking mishaps. 

  • Trying Too Hard: Always show vulnerability and ask for help when needed
  • Lengthy Emails: Try using email templates to ensure your cold emails get straight to the point. 
  • No Business Card: Contacts need a way to follow up. Keep a digital business card handy to share during networking events. 
  • Awkward Questions: Never ask about money, politics, or how much they work. It’s OK to ask about personal interests but avoid controversial topics. 
  • No Follow Up: Be politely persistent until you get a response. Bankers are busy, so that they may need a reminder of your encounter. 

To ensure your networking efforts are not in vain, be proactive and make direct requests for what you want. Always maintain a positive, friendly tone and never burn bridges. 

Even when faced with direct rejection, you must handle it with grace. You never know how this contact may help your investment banking career in the future. 

Set Yourself Up For Networking Success

Networking in the corporate finance sector is critical because it is a naturally competitive and volatile job market. 

You need to demonstrate your valuation for others to see the benefit of having you in their professional network. 

Investment banking networking may seem daunting, but you will reap the benefits if you are dedicated and consistent. 

FAQs

Is investment banking private equity? 

No, investment banking is a capital raising service, while private equity is a business dedicated to investments. 

What is a digital business card? 

Much like a paper business card, a digital business card is a shareable virtual file that includes your contact information, plus important links. 

How can I use relationship networking today? 

Use relationship networking to expand your personal and professional network, which will give you more contacts to call upon if you need advice or favors. 

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