In addition to friends, family and any colleagues from past jobs, begin to build relationships with your school alumni. Having graduated from the same university or business school means a bond already exists with these alumni. Leverage that bond to create new introductions. Many universities have online career networks. These networks often use the services of professionals from the investment banking industry to advise their members.
Next, do a thorough web search and make a list of all the seminars and events organized by industry associations and investment banks. Investment banking firms such as JPMorganChase, Credit Suisse and others host events that offer excellent educational and networking opportunities.
Another networking opportunity may include recruiters. It’s true that some recruiters may prefer to work only with people who have been in the industry for a few years, have experience, and are looking to switch firms. But if you’ve graduated from a good school, show intelligence and passion, recruiters may be willing to sit down for a few minutes with you for an “informational interview” and offer their advice. If they get a sense you are bright, ambitious and know your stuff, they’ll want to stay in touch with you as your career develops. JobSearchDigest provides members with a database of recruiters who specialize in investment banking jobs.
Making the phone call to ask for a networking meeting is nerve-wracking and intimidating, but something you have to get used to through practice. After all, as an investment banker you will be constantly developing your professional network, too. One trick is to call in the evening when there’s less pressure from meetings. Investment bankers are likely working late. You may be surprised when a difficult-to-reach person picks up the phone.
You may have to phone 20, 30 or more people in the industry to get just one meeting. But if you play your cards right in that meeting, you’ll walk away with another few people to call. And from that point on, it is always easier to get in the door when “so-and-so suggested that I call you.” That’s why you should always ask for referrals to others they may know.
Prepare well for the meeting with a list of questions about their firm, their experience, how they got into the industry, and more. This list of questions will become second nature and serve you well in more casual networking opportunities, such as cocktail parties.
The key is to take advantage of every networking opportunity you can in your job search process. Always have a copy of your resume handy in case they ask to see it. And always be professional by following up after a meeting with a prompt thank you note or email. You may also want to send them a follow-up letter three or four months later to tell them about your progress and once again ask for any referrals.
Networking is something that starts slowly and builds momentum over time. Don’t expect your networking activities to pay off right away. But your passion for the business and persistence will result in solid job leads. The networking skills you develop in your job search will pay off handsomely throughout your career as an investment banker.
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