by Brian DeChesare Comments (83)

How to Write More Effective Networking Emails That Will Double Your Response Rate in 15 Minutes or Less

Close Up Of A Businessman's Hand On Laptop Keypad
What’s your greatest weakness?

I’m not talking about the BS answer you give in an interview (‘I work too hard!’).

I mean your actual greatest weakness.

You might be thinking of weaknesses like “Well, I’m sort of disorganized… and sometimes I lose motivation … and sometimes I’m not good at delegating tasks.”

All of those may be real weaknesses, but they take a lot of time to fix.

But if you’re currently a student or you haven’t had much full-time work experience, you have another ‘greatest weakness’ that is easily fixable:

You can’t write effective emails.

In this post, I’m going to share:

  • The top email mistakes I’ve seen – from both students and professionals.
  • Examples of “emails gone astray” – kind of like watching a car accident in slow motion, but without the casualties and explosions.
  • How to send effective networking emails for connecting on LinkedIn, setting up informational interviews, following up, asking about internships/jobs, and more.
  • And yes: a collection of email templates that you can use for everything above.

This will be a fun one, so let’s get started:

Why Does Email Matter?

Despite the rise of social media, the business world still runs on email – and it will continue to do so for decades to come, if not forever.

Yes, you might use Instagram or Snapchat or Pinterest to talk to your friends, but you are not going to “pin” a client presentation with confidential financial projections to the CEO’s board.

So if you ever work in professional services (banking, consulting, accounting, law, etc.), you will need to be very good at communicating via email, or you’ll be out of a job quickly.

But you also need to write professional emails to network your way into these industries in the first place.

Yes, you can and should meet people at in-person events… but you will need to write a good number of emails to follow-up and stay in touch.

Finally, email matters a lot because you are bad at it.

I’m convinced that instant messaging, mobile messaging, Facebook, and other forms of online communication have made people dumber.

If you look at the average postal letter written in 1800 or 1900, it’s at least 2-3x more coherent than the average email written today… because you actually had to think before writing back then.

Here’s a rough estimate of what the thousands of emails I receive each year look like:

  • 50%: Completely unintelligible; I have no idea what the person is asking. Google Translate doesn’t help because the “Gibberish” language is not supported.
  • 25%: I can understand what the person is asking, with some effort, but he/she is stating it in a confusing or roundabout way. There are grammatical and/or spelling errors.
  • 15%: These emails come close to being intelligible, but there are still careless errors.
  • 10%: These emails are error-free and are perfect or nearly perfect in tone, content, and intent.

So How DO You Write an Effective Email?

This is a broad topic, but most of it comes back to the incredibly important article we published on communication skills in investment banking:

  1. Contact the Right Person – And this includes doing background research to see who the right person is.
  2. Use the Right Level of Detail – You should never write emails longer than a few sentences, but certain situations call for more detail, while others call for less detail.
  3. Use the Right Words – That’s what we’ll dig into in this article: how to avoid mistakes, how to phrase your requests appropriately, and how to sound like a seasoned professional rather than a newbie.

It’s easier to show you what not to do, so we’ll go through the top 7 email mistakes first – and then at the end I’ll give you my set of templates.

Final Note: This article is not about using email to sell a product or to raise money for your startup or anything like that – to keep it under 100,000 words, it is strictly about email in the context of networking into the finance industry.

Mistake #1: No Background Research

The most serious email mistake occurs before you ever hit the “Compose” button: you fail to research the person you are contacting.

At the very minimum, you should do the following before you write anything:

  1. Look at the person’s LinkedIn profile, and take note of where he/she has worked and studied before.
  2. Do a Google search for the person’s name plus the companies and schools associated with him/her.
  3. Figure out what your connection to the person is – the same school? A shared interest or hobby? A similar ethnic background? Similar industry/sector interests?

If you cannot find any connection, you could still contact the person but he/she should be lower on your priority list.

If you can find a connection, great… now you just have to leverage it correctly.

Mistake #2: Incorrect Email Setup

You should set up a separate Gmail account for networking purposes, and use it for networking only and nothing else.

You do NOT want to use a .edu address (unless you forward it to your Gmail address) because your .edu address will eventually expire. You want something permanent and separate.

This separate Gmail address should include your first name and last name, and middle initial and/or birth year if necessary, but nothing else (please, no more email addresses like “IKillUnicornz4562@gmail.com”).

Your signature should include your name, university or firm name, phone number, and email address:

John Smith

UC Berkeley ‘[Graduation Year]

johnasmith@gmail.com

555-555-4567

People receiving a high volume of email may forget some or all of that information unless you make it easy to find.

Mistake #3: Grammatical and Spelling Errors

If you are a native English speaker or you learned English before the age of 5, you have NO excuse for these errors.

If you never learned grammar in school, get a book and start learning.

If you are not a native speaker, you have a more legitimate excuse: the basic grammar of the English language is relatively simple, but there are tons of exceptions, special cases, and difficult-to-explain rules such as when to use “a / an” vs. “the” vs. nothing.

HOWEVER, many recruiters and finance professionals don’t care: they will just ignore you if your emails contain mistakes.

To illustrate, I’ll share the first part of an email sent by a reader who applied to numerous banks (I have redacted personal information to protect his privacy):

“This is [Name], junior from [University Name]. I applied for Summer Analyst position at [Bank Name]’s New York office. I wanted to follow-up with you on my application because I still haven’t got any notice from you. [Bank Name] has been my dream employer for years, so it would be sad if I didn’t have a chance to introduce myself to bankers at [Bank Name].”

In subsequent paragraphs, he went on to explain why he should receive an interview there – which itself is a questionable strategy (yes, you can do this, but keep it much shorter).

But let’s just focus on this paragraph.

Many recruiters and bankers would ignore this email because of the grammatical errors and inappropriate tone / word choices here:

  1. The first sentence is missing “a” before “junior.”
  2. The second sentence is missing “the” before “Summer Analyst position.”
  3. In the third sentence, you should never use a phrase like “haven’t got any notice from you” in a professional email. And the grammar is wrong because it should be “gotten” (not that “gotten” even belongs in an email like this, anyway).
  4. The fourth sentence, while not technically “wrong,” sounds very strange in a professional email.

An improved version of this paragraph might read:

“I am [Name], a junior at [University Name], and I recently applied for the Summer Analyst position at [Bank Name]’s New York office. I wanted to follow-up with you because I have not yet heard back regarding my application status. [Bank Name] is my first choice, so I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to interview with your team.”

If you could not detect the errors in this paragraph, then you should have a native speaker friend proofread your emails.

If you are not a native speaker and you’re reading this site right now, there’s a 90% chance your native language is Mandarin or Korean – so it should be easy to get help.

Plenty of Westerners want to learn Chinese for business reasons; a sizable number also want to learn Korean because they are obsessed with Korean dramas.

Find someone who wants to learn your language, and ask that person to spend an hour proofreading your emails each week in exchange for tutoring them or answering language-related questions for an hour.

You could also post on the Grammar Subreddit and ask for help or corrections.

Mistake #4: Inappropriate, Vague, or Useless Subject Lines

Here are the most common subject lines in emails I receive:

  1. Blank – Yes, really: no subject line at all.
  2. A single word that is impossible to interpret at a glance (ex: “help” or “debt” or “counseling” or “advice” or “Hi”).
  3. Several words that are still impossible to interpret (ex: “New Things” or “Excel Worksheet” or “Alien Husband”).

The solution is simple: don’t think, just use the following set of pre-approved subject lines (or variations, such as “Full-Time Roles” or “Analyst Roles” instead of “Internships” in the examples below):

  1. [University Name] Student – [Industry Abbreviation, e.g. IB or PE] Internships
  2. [Firm Name] – Summer Internships
  3. [University Name] Student – [Industry Name] Internships
  4. [University Name] student seeking career advice
  5. [Person’s Name] – Referral – [Industry Abbreviation, e.g. IB or PE] Internships
  6. Thanks for your time on [Day]

Use subject lines that are:

  1. Specific – Give a university / business school / firm name, or an idea of what you want to discuss.
  2. Credible – If you’re reaching out to a referral, mention your mutual contact; if it’s a cold email, establish credibility by mentioning your firm or school.
  3. Actionable – Whenever possible, give the person an idea of what you’re requesting as well (Time to speak? Career advice? A referral?).

Mistake #5: Incorrect Tone, Inappropriate Requests, and Poor Word Choices

One common misconception about the English language is that “there are no formality levels.”

True, it lacks verb conjugations based on formality, and there are no honorifics or special titles…

BUT you still use different language when writing a business professional email. Specifically, you:

  1. Avoid Exclamations / Smiley Faces / Emoticons – Never use these under any circumstances.
  2. Avoid “Imperative” Statements – No, you do not want to give a Managing Director or C-level executive “orders” or anything that sounds like “orders.”
  3. Soften Your Requests and Use Less Direct Language – “Please review my resume” = bad; “I would greatly appreciate any advice you have on refining my resume for opportunities in this field” = acceptable. Think “suggestion” – not “order.”

To illustrate these points, I’ll dissect a networking email that an M&I reader sent out and explain the missteps in each section:

SUBJECT: [Name] – Thank You!

Diagnosis: Delete the exclamation. Do not use your name in the subject when your name is also in the “From” field. Just “Thank you” or “Thanks for your time today” would suffice.

BODY, Paragraph 1:

“Thanks a lot for taking the time to speak with me today! Your advice is important and valuable.”

Diagnosis: Replace “!” with “.” It sounds weird to describe advice as “important and valuable”; use “I really appreciate your advice and guidance” or “I really appreciate the advice you have given me.”

BODY, Paragraph 2:

“Also, both Word and PDF versions of my resume are attached. Can you please review it and let me know your thoughts?”

Diagnosis: The first sentence is better in the active voice: “Also, I have attached both Word and PDF versions of my resume.” Replace the second sentence with “I would greatly appreciate any advice you have on refining it for investment banking internship applications.”

Side Note: You should just attach a PDF version of your resume to avoid the implication that you want the other person to edit it.

BODY, Paragraph 3:

“I can’t thank you enough for your mentorship and guidance. Let’s stay in touch!”

Diagnosis: Repeat after me: no exclamations. This is also too much of an “imperative” statement and would sound better as: “Thanks again for your mentorship and guidance. I’ll be sure to keep you apprised of any developments on my end, and I look forward to staying in touch.”

Closing:

“Best,

[Name]

Diagnosis: “Best” is too casual. Use “Best regards” or “Sincerely” or even “Thanks” instead.

Bonus Points: This email would also be better if he gave a “polite decline” option after asking for the resume review. For example:

“I know you are extremely busy and I understand if you cannot make the time – but if you have a few minutes, I would really appreciate it and it would make a big difference in my internship search.”

Mistake #6: Emails That Are Too Long or Too Short

Yes, emails that are too short can also be a problem. If you provide insufficient context around your request, the other person will not respond.

Here are my rules of thumb on email length:

  1. Never write a truly “long” email – if it is over 10 sentences, you’re doing something wrong. Ideally, it will be closer to 5 sentences or less.
  2. Short emails (1-2 sentences) are most appropriate for follow-up after a conversation or in-person meeting, or if you have not received a response to your initial email.
  3. Longer emails (3-7 sentences) are best for your initial outreach to alumni or referrals, or for cold emailing to ask directly about internships or full-time opportunities.

Mistake #7: Lack of a Specific Request or Call-to-Action

You don’t need this if you’re just sending a “Thank you” note, but in other situations you need some type of request: a 5-minute chat, a referral, a resume review, or anything, really.

But you have to phrase it in a less direct way:

  • Bad: “I have attached my resume. Could you please review it and give me your opinion?”
  • Good: “I have attached my resume. I would greatly appreciate any advice you have on further refining it for investment banking opportunities.”
  • Bad: “Could we please set up a call so you can share your career insights?”
  • Good: “I know you are extremely busy, but I was hoping you might be willing to speak with me for a few minutes to discuss how you changed careers successfully. No worries if you are too busy to do this, but I would greatly appreciate any insights you could share.”
  • Bad: “Are any other teams at your bank hiring?”
  • Good: “I was wondering if you might know whether any other teams at your firm are experiencing high deal flow and are in need of interns. If any teams have the capacity, I could be of immediate assistance given my private equity background and financial skill set.”

How to Fix These Mistakes: Your Own Collection of Email Templates

So how do you write perfect emails that result in real responses, informational interviews, and eventually real interviews?

Easy: use my templates.

Yes, you read that correctly: click here to download the investment banking email templates.

This document includes examples for LinkedIn outreach, cold emails asking for internships, informational interview requests, thank you notes and follow-up emails, and more.

These templates are more appropriate for students seeking internships, but you can certainly tweak and apply these templates for full-time roles, lateral hiring, and other situations.

Beyond this sample, there are also dozens of additional email templates included in the IB Networking Toolkit we offer.

course-1

IB Networking Toolkit

Break into investment banking – like a pro. Dominate your cold calls, informational interviews, and weekend trips.

learn more

You can check the full course outline there for the details, but we cover all the scenarios above, plus other cases, such as reaching out to recruiters, staying in touch with co-workers, cold-email/follow-up scenarios, and more.

There are also “executed examples” so you can see exactly how to write real emails using these templates.

While I give away a ton of free information on this site, most of our email training, tips, and templates are in the IB Networking Toolkit.

Your Greatest Weakness?

There’s a good chance that your greatest weakness is your inability to write effective emails.

Fortunately, it’s also an easy-to-fix weakness if you understand the guidelines and examples above and use the templates.

Since you made it this far, I’ll also make another offer: post your draft emails in the comments below, and I’ll correct them or offer suggestions.

M&I - Brian

About the Author

Brian DeChesare

is the Founder of Mergers & Inquisitions and Breaking Into Wall Street. In his spare time, he enjoys memorizing obscure Excel functions, editing resumes, obsessing over TV shows, traveling like a drug dealer, and defeating Sauron.


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  1. This article is great, as always. Many thanks for these helpful examples.

    I just wanted to add a bit of pedantry regarding the example of a poor email in ‘Mistake #3’ above. In British English, the past participle of ‘get’ is got, so the clause ‘I still haven’t got any notice from you’ is grammatically correct to a British reader.

    However, I agree it sounds clumsy and that one should not use a phrase like that in a professional email.

    1. Yes, that is true, but this email was written to someone in a U.S. office, so the person should not have used U.K. English rules.

  2. Emanuel Eriksson

    Dear Brian,

    Thank you for this article, it has been great help so far in my effort to reach out to IB professionals

    I have a question regarding the subject line #5. “[Person’s Name] would in this case be the person who referred me, not the person I am sending it to, is that correct?

    Thanks,

    Emanuel

  3. Haha, “90% chance your native language is Mandarin or Korean”. I had to double check in my room to make sure that you are not spying on me (native Korean).

  4. Hi Brian/M&I,
    I promise this is the last comment that I post for a while, but the more I read your articles the more I have questions. I am not sure about my email template, would you mind having a look?
    Dear Mr./Ms. [____]
    My name is [____] and I am a young professional working in the commodities markets. After more than three years as an analyst, for [company name] before and for a top commodity consulting firm in Switzerland after, I am now studying a Master in Finance at the [University name].
    I am interested in talking to you about how you got to the position of [____] and your advice on what I should be doing to get there myself. [Bank name] is very well known for its strong commodities desk, so when I noticed your name and position recently in the [alumni database/LinkedIn], I figured you’d be a great person to speak with. Let me know if you would be willing to talk, by phone or in person.
    Best regards,
    [Name]

    1. Your email is mostly fine, but there are some small grammatical issues (have a writer or English major check it). You should also try to insert more of a connection between yourself and the other person, such as shared interests/universities/co-workers.

  5. Daniel Smilansky

    Hey Brian/M&I –

    Fantastic article, and even at 30 I learned a good deal. I am repurposing these templates for Venture Capital positions/internships (not fundraising), and would appreciate your feedback on the following email requesting an informational interview with a VC Associate:


    Subject: VC Informational Interview

    Hi [name],

    I recently read your post on LinkedIn titled [title of his post] and it really struck a cord with me.

    I own a B2B digital marketing company ([my company website]) based out of [city], and I aspire to learn more about the venture capital world.

    Given that you work at a well known firm like [VC firm] in an Associate position, would you be available for a quick cup of coffee over the next week or so?

    If so, would any of the following dates/times work at the [coffee shop near his office]:

    Monday, December 19th at 12:30PM
    Wednesday, December 21st at 7pm
    Friday, December 23rd at 8am

    If not, a quick phone call at those times also works.

    Thank You,

    [my name]”

    1. You should probably be more specific with your request… maybe make it sound like you’re interested in raising money from his firm and he’ll be more likely to speak with you. You need to give some quick indication that you’ve already done your own research on VC and have a specific question for him (something more than “learning more about the venture capital world.”).

  6. Any thoughts on following up after my interview with the MD (Equity Research)? They aren’t hiring any analysts right now but he told me I left a good impression and would love to discuss more should opportunities open up. How should I go about this? This firm is on the top of my list and I’m very much willing to wait for them. How should I get my point across? Would this be enough?

    “Thanks for taking the time to speak with me a month ago. I greatly appreciate your advice. While I understand that your firm may not have any openings right now, I was wondering if things have changed on your end? Please let me know.”

    Thanks

    1. Just tweaked this a bit:

      Thank you for taking the time to speak with me last month. I greatly appreciate the discussion we had regarding [XX]. Your firm sounds like it is exactly what I am looking for, and I’m confident that I would fit in well with your team. While I understand that your firm may not have any openings right now, I was wondering if things have changed on your end? Please let me know.

      Thank you.

      1. I would change the last part to:

        “I understand that your firm may not have any openings right now, but I just wanted to follow up and see if anything had changed on your end. Thanks in advance.”

  7. Hi M&I,

    Can you please rate my email. This email is for a financial manager I met at work. He gave me his business card and said I can contact him for any internship programmes.

    Kind regards,

    Daniel

    Subject: [Company Name] – Spring Internships and Insight Programmes (programmes or programs)

    Hello [First Name],

    I hope the holidays are treating you well.

    We met in [Month] at [Work Name] where you [Information on how we met].

    I am writing to see if [Company Name] might have any Spring Internships and Insight Programmes.

    I know you are extremely busy. Please do not trouble to answer this email, but I would appreciate any insights you could share.

    Best regards,

    Daniel Oluwole
    [University]
    [Email address]
    [Contact number]

    1. M&I - Nicole

      We’d change it to:

      Hello [First Name],

      I hope this email finds you well. It was pleasure meeting you at [XX].

      To recap, I am currently a student at [University Name], and I completed the [Program Name] this past summer, with a focus on [XX]. I have previous experience in [XX] as well.

      I am set to graduate in [Month Year], and I am very interested in your firm because of your focus on [Industry Name]. One of my contacts, [Name and Explain Who the Person is], also focuses on [Industry Name] at [Bank Name], and has discussed recent deals such as [Name 1-2 Examples] with me.

      Is your firm currently accepting interns for your Spring Internships and Insight Programmes?

      If you have any availability next week, I would greatly appreciate the chance to speak with you and learn more about your firm. I understand you are extremely busy, but even a few minutes would be helpful to my recruiting efforts.

      https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/sales-to-investment-banking/

  8. Hi Brain,

    I have finished two rounds interview with a Tier 1 investment bank. In the first round phone interview, I performed well and one interviewer (my alumni) really like me. We had a nice conservation over the phone. So I got the invitation to the final round interview (mostly thanks to him). At the end of the phone interview session, he gave me his email and said that if I need further information about the second round interviewer or any future advice about career, just feel free to contact him. My questions are:

    1. I did not perform well on the final round interview (fail to get the offer) but still would like to build up a relationship with him. I have added him on linkedin. Do you think it’s better to contact him via email or linkedin?
    2. Since I am not in the same city with him, do you have any suggestions about how to start with the follow-up networking? (i can not invite him for a coffee or meet up to ask questions…)and any advice about how to last this relationship without bothering him too much?

    Thank you very much. Looking forward to your reply

    Best wishes,

    Allie

    1. M&I - Nicole

      1. I’d connect with him via email and perhaps ask him for feedback on your interview https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/how-to-get-honest-feedback-investment-banking/
      2. In this case, I’d ask if he’s available for a brief chat sometime next few weeks when he’s available. You won’t be bothering him as long as you’re not sending him multiple messages a week/calling him a week when he’s not responding. If he doesn’t respond, I’d wait for a week or so before following up with him again.

  9. Hi Brian,

    I think this is a fantastic and insightful article. It will certainly be helpful in my own networking efforts.

    One point I would like to raise is using personal emails vs firm emails. I have found a handful of personal emails of VP’s and MD’s via LinkedIn. Would you suggest I contact them directly using this email (as they will surely not receive nearly as many student emails this way) or message them through LinkedIn and hope they find my profile appealing?

    Thanks!

    Arvind

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I would not suggest you contact them via their personal email as this maybe “intrusive” to some. Messaging them via LinkedIn or/and their work email is best.

  10. Is it appropriate to ask someone in sales and trading for a referral to an investment banker? I’ve heard its bad to tell people in asset management that you want to work in ibanking…

    1. It is not ideal, but you can do it if you have no other way to reach the banker.

    2. M&I - Nicole

      Not necessarily, if you don’t plan to return to the AM role/stay there. If you want to leave your doors open in that AM division then I’d try another route/ask for another referral through someone outside of your AM team, unless he/she is fine with you exploring other options.

  11. Hi Brian,

    I was wondering if you may rate my email. I am a bit unsure whether or not I should deviate a bit from your linkedin template. Would asking to receive advice about their experience at the firm and or asking for advice on applying for a current open internship position at their firm be to blunt or shall I I approach the email in a more subtle fashion. The person in question went to the same school and was part of the finance society as I but, we never actually crossed paths.

    Best,

    Jonathan

    Hi [Name],

    I’m currently a recent graduate from the [School name] with a major in [major] with internship experience in wealth management and I found your name via LinkedIn. I’m messaging you because I’m interested in a career in the private equity industry, and I saw that you work for the [Firm Name] .

    It would be great to connect so we could speak in the future as I learn more about the private equity industry and perhaps receive your advice on applying to an internship with [Firm Name] .

    Kind Regards,

    Jonathan

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I’d be more specific and just ask him for coffee/ a brief phone chat to connect with him to learn more about the industry, and ask him to share his experience with you.

      1. Thank you Nicole for your advice and replying to my first comment it is very much appreciated. I do apologize for writing Brian.

        Best

        John

  12. Please rate my e-mail:

    Hi ____,

    I hope the holidays are treating you well.

    I will be back in _____ from ____ until ____ and was wondering if there is a time between those dates that you would be available to sit down for a coffee.

    I was hoping to ask you about the growing capital markets in _____, and more broadly the potential opportunities for a new graduate.

    Thanks in advance.

    Regards,
    Sean

    1. M&I - Nicole

      This email is ok. I’d just ask if he/she is available to meet in the days between XX and YY to share his/her experiences with you. I’d probably leave out the last paragraph.

  13. Bullishbanker

    Hi everybody,
    i’ve reached out to one guy who agreed to talk to me via phone on day x but didn’t answer that day.
    i’d like to reach out again to that person as i’m having big trouble finding ppl to talk to within that particular firm. how should i do that ?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I’d call him again in a few days. If he doesn’t respond, shoot him an email.

  14. Jared Bisla

    Hey Brian, I’m a freshmen at a non target school and was thinking of sending an email to a friend of my sisters who said he would be willing to help me. I’m kind of thumped of what to say and start off with because I don’t want to sound to desperate/annoying. He works at Lazard so could you please give me some tips? Appreciate if you respond I know you’re a busy guy.

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Jared, I’d just introduce yourself and say that you’ve been referred to him by your common friend XX. Say that you’d love to learn more about Lazard and the industry, and ask if he has a few minutes to speak with you about it.

      1. Thanks Nicole, sorry for writing Brian it was my first comment ever on the website and didn’t know how it worked. Appreciate the insight a lot.

        1. M&I - Nicole

          No worries. Welcome to the site!

  15. I received a reply after cold-emailing that asks my preference between two locations. Both are my targets but I ain’t sure how to answer. Which strategies should I use?
    1) say “intent to learn both locations for right now and finally apply one”
    2) choose the one that this person works at and hides my preference for the other

    FYI: networking for next summer internship

    Thanks!!!

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I’d just say both are great though if you were to choose, you prefer XX over YY.

      1. Would XX be where this person working at or is it purely based on my preference?

        1. XX should ideally be where the person is working at.

  16. Hi,

    I’m transferring to another university (let’s say A) for this fall. When I’m reaching out to alumni from A, should I say “I’m a juniot ar A” or should I say “I’m transfering to A for this fall” OR either way is fine? OR would I be screwed if I had already used the former way before?

    1. You can say, “This fall, I’ll be a junior at A” and technically you won’t be lying. The first method you suggested is fine if you already used it.

  17. Hey! Being a third year at a non-target school right now, would it be a good time to start networking for a full time analyst position for after graduation? Or is it too early? This networking would be for bulge brackets specifically as I have good contacts in them and would like to end up at one. Thank you so much for your insight.

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Yes I think it is a good time to start networking for a full time role after graduation now. It’s never too early to start networking.

  18. Thanks a lot. I’ve made some revisions. I have quick question: does group name should be capitalized? ‘Investment Banking’, not ‘investment banking’, etc.

    ——————————–

    Hello [Name],

    I am writing to you to see if [Company Name] might be interested in taking an Analyst starting in July 2015.

    I am set to graduate in June 2015 from [School name], with a major in [Major]. I am currently spending my last semester as an exchange student at [School name] in [City, Country]. I have worked in the Investment Banking team at [IB boutique] as well as in the Due Diligence and M&A groups at [Big 4 Company] and [Big 4 Company]. My resume is attached.

    I am very interested in the venture capital industry, start ups and the technology sector (especially mobile and gaming), and particularly in your firm. Would it be possible to have a quick chat at your convenience? I would be very grateful for an opportunity to discuss this with you.

    Thanks,
    [My name and surname]

    1. That looks good. “Investment Banking” can be capitalized or lowercase; it doesn’t really matter as long as you’re consistent when you write it in a message.

  19. Hi Brian. First of all – excellent website. If not M&I – I wouldn’t be where I am now :) Now to the point – I’m trying to cold e-mail VC for an Analyst poisition. Could you look at it please?

    Hello [Name],

    I am writing to you to see if [Comopany Name] might be interested in taking an Analyst starting from July 2015.

    I am set to graduate in June 2015 from [School name], majoring in [Major]. I spend my last semester as an exchange student at [School name] in [City, Country]. I have worked in Investment Banking team at [IB boutique] as well as in Transaction and M&A groups at [Big 4 Company] and [Big 4 Company]. You can find my resume attached.

    I am very interested in venture capital industry, start ups and technology sector (especially mobile and gaming), and particularly in your firm. Would it be possible to have a quick chat on your convenience? I would be very grateful for an opportunity to discuss this with you.

    Thanks,
    [My name and surname]

    1. Overall it looks good but there are some grammatical mistakes and missing or misused articles… a few examples:

      “starting in July 2015.”

      “with a major in [Major].”

      “I’m currently spending my last semester as an exchange student….”

      “in the investment banking team at”

      “as well as in the Transaction and M&A groups at”

      “My resume is attached.”

      “interested in the venture capital industry” “the technology sector”

      “at your convenience”

  20. I recently moved from a casual start up workplace to a very formal setting.

    My boss informed me that all emails should start with the person’s name. In addition, emails should always sign off with a nice version of your electronic signature (or your name) above your email signature (which already includes your name). Apparently some of the older management thinks just an email signature is too brisk!

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I can see where your boss is coming from. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us!

  21. Hello,

    I sent an email to a VP (let’s call him Adam) of a certain group saying that I’d like to meet if possible, giving certain dates X and Y and times on those days (I had already spoken to him on the phone before and brought up the idea of meeting in person when we spoke). He responded to my email asking if I had connected with someone else in that group, because they would be able to help me more.

    I then responded to Adam, thanking him for the referral and saying that I would reach out to the other person. I also said in my response asking Adam if he would be able to meet on day X or Y, only realizing until after I had sent my response that he probably responded the way he did because he doesn’t want to meet.

    Do you think that asking Adam the second time if he would be able to meet on those specific days, I have made him angry? I kept a polite tone but I am not sure if he will be mad that I didn’t read between the lines at first.

    Thanks.

    1. I would not worry about it, chances are he is very busy and hasn’t thought about this too much. I would just contact the other person and get referrals to others in their group.

  22. Hi M&I,

    Thank you for all of the content you write and post. It’s been very helpful to me and to many others as well.

    If my name is John A. Doe, which is a better email to use: [email1] or [email2]?

    Thank you.

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I think both email addresses are fine. I may go with the first one but this is just a personal preference. I have removed your email addresses from the comments so they aren’t available to the public.

  23. Hi Brian,

    I have recently started to read your articles and they have been extremely helpful to me. I’ve also enjoyed in particular your description of “the worst day of an Analyst”, and despite the troubling but more importantly a realistic description of a bad day in the life of an Analyst, I am now even more driven to work in Investment Banking. I will be 27 in exactly 5 days and I currently work in Wealth Management. I would greatly appreciate your input on how to make this lateral move.
    Many thanks in advance for taking the time to write back.
    Looking forward to hearing from you.

    Best Regards,
    Frank

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I’d getting a Masters of Finance/MBA at a target school can increase your chances, since you don’t have the relevant deal experience. I’d also network extensively with bankers through work; this way you can be aware of potential opportunities and understand how to better position yourself.

  24. Hi Brian,

    Can I use the following template to follow up when the MD told me they are not expect to hire any intern this year but wrote me a lengthy email pointing out my advantage compare to other candidates 2 months ago

    “I hope all is well. With recruiting season approaching, I wanted to follow-up and ask you how I could best position myself for an interview with your firm”

    Thank you for your advice !

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Yang, please refer to my previous message: If the MD told you that they’re not hiring this year, then I wouldn’t use your template. I’d say something like “Thanks for taking the time to speak with me 2 months ago. I greatly appreciate your advice. While I understand that your firm may not be recruiting any interns this year, I was wondering if things have changed on your end? Please let me know.”

      Keep the note short and sweet. Chances are they may not be hiring and may not need extra help so I would continue to network with others. However if you’ve developed a good rapport with the MD he may respond to the above. And if you’ve had any updates since you last spoke with him (i.e. got another offer, joined a finance club, won an IB competition etc) you may want to let him know too.

  25. Brian,

    First, thank you for the work you put into M&I. I decided to give these templates a shot this week, and they resulted in four responses from seniors in IB/Consulting. My previous “genuine” emails usually produce a much lower response rate, so I thank you for your advice.

    I am writing because I have two main questions, the first of which is briefly covered here but I guess I just want a little clarification. To quickly fill you in, I am applying for an internship with a large consulting firm. Upon reviewing my linkedin network, I found that I have a family friend in a very senior position at the company. Obviously I think I should take advantage of this and reach out to him, but I am having trouble figuring out how to professionally let him know that I am applying for an internship at his firm and would appreciate any help he can give me. Basically, how straight forward should I be? Would you advise sending him an email just letting him know I am applying or should I ask to speak with him about the internship?

    Also, if you have time, I would appreciate some advice on my current internship hunt. Due to some unique circumstances, I really want to intern in Seattle this summer. I am a finance and economics double major at a good state school 3000 miles from Seattle. I have exhausted the limited alumni contact list for Seattle, and I don’t seem to be having too much luck from blind linkedin requests for Seattle finance searches. Do you have an advice for more effective ways to find/reach out to potential opportunities in Seattle?

    Sorry for the length, and I thank you in advance for your time,

    Trevor

    1. Thanks, glad to hear it.

      I would just send your family friend a quick email and say that you hope he’s doing well and that you’re applying to [Firm Name] and just noticed that he worked there. You know he’s busy, but if he has any insights or recommendations for the recruiting process there, you would really appreciate it if he could share them with you.

      Seattle is tough because there aren’t many traditional finance firms there. I don’t even know if the big banks all have offices there. Maybe expand your search and think about commercial real estate, wealth management, and opportunities like that because there are more of those in that area.

  26. Hi Brian,

    Would you mind to give me some tips on my cold email template ?

    Hi FIRST NAME,

    I am writing to see if FIRM NAME are experiencing high deal flow and are in need of interns for the summer break period. I am a junior at SCHOOL NAME studying Economics & Accounting, and previously interned at FIRM NAME where I worked in finance,accounting,audit and legal field. My resume is attached for reference.

    I know how busy you probably are but would it be possible to arrange a call? I would be very grateful for an opportunity to discuss this with you.Thank you in advance for your time.

    Best Regards,

    Justin

    1. I would use:

      “Dear Mr. / Ms. [Last Name],

      I am writing to see if [Firm Name] is currently experiencing high deal flow and is in need of interns.

      I am currently a junior at [School Name] studying Economics and Accounting, and I have previous work experience at [Firm Name], where I assisted with finance and accounting work [NOTE: Can you give more specific skills here?]. I have attached my resume for your reference.

      I understand that [Firm Name] has a formalized recruiting process, but if you are experiencing high deal flow then I could be of assistance.

      Would it be possible to arrange a call? I would be very grateful for the opportunity to discuss this with you. Thanks in advance for your time.

      Best regards,
      [Your Name]”

  27. Hi Brian,

    I have a quick question: I’m setting up a gmail account for networking and have a very common name. JohnSmith and JohnMiddleSmith are taken. I already have JohnSmith2016 (actually John.Smith.2016, which is what shows up in Outlook when opening a message from my gmail account); is that okay for networking purposes?

    Thanks,

    John

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Yes this is fine.

  28. Great article Brian! I’m so guilty of using exclamation marks in emails; now I know better.

    1. Thanks! Glad to hear it.

  29. Hi Brian,

    It is me, Su, again.

    A little bit away from the topic, I am interested in your opinion regarding follow up after resume sent.

    Do you think that a follow up should be done?
    If yes, via phone call or email?

    On top of that, what could be done other than asking if the resume has reached their side?

    I have received feedback from different point of view:
    1. Follow up should be done to become outstanding
    2. Follow up shouldn’t be done as HR manager is busy enough. Such action might irritates him/her.

    Appreciate much if you could share your point of view.
    Perhaps you can write a short article on this.

    Thank you.

    Regards,
    Su

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I’d follow up with email first, and then a phone call. Yes following-up shows your persistence so yes I’d do that. Not much, I’d keep the follow-up email/call short especially since the recruiter is probably busy.

      1. Hi Nicole,

        When would be adequate to follow up: after 1 week, 2 weeks?

        Thanks.

        Kind regards,
        José

  30. Hi Brian, would you mind looking at my email template?

    Hi (INSERT FIRST NAME),

    My name is _______, I am currently a Sophomore in the School
    of ________ at _________ University studying International
    Economics. I found your Linkedin Profile through a Linkedin search of
    ______ alumni who were working in financial services and was interested in
    learning more about your experiences.

    I was wondering if you would possibly be free to speak with me for a
    couple of minutes sometime this week or next to answer a few of my
    questions? I am free anytime before 9:30 AM and after 3 PM on
    Wednesday, Thursday, Friday this week and next week. If none of these
    times work for you, I would be more than happy to find an alternative
    time that works better for both of us.

    Thanks for all of the help, I am looking forward to speaking with you!

    Best,

    _____________

    1. I would use the following (paragraph-by-paragraph):

      “My name is _______, and I am currently a Sophomore in the School
      of ________ at _________ University studying International
      Economics.”

      “I found your name and Linkedin profile via the alumni database, and was very interested in your career in [Industry X] as I am also pursuing opportunities in the field.”

      “I was wondering if you would be available for a few minutes this week or next to share your experiences and answer a few short questions I had about how you moved into [Industry X].”

      “I am free before 9:30 AM and after 3 PM [Give the Timezone here, ideally matched to the other person’s timezone] on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday this week or next if one of those times suits your schedule. I understand you are extremely busy, so no worries if you do not have time – but I would greatly appreciate it if you had a few minutes to share your insights.”

      “Thanks for your help, and I look forward to speaking with you soon.”

      “Thanks,
      [Your Name]”

  31. Hi Brian,

    Thank you for amending my e-mail. I really appreciate your materials – they helped me land my first finance internship at a top investment bank, so I am very much obliged.

    Given your entrepreneurial background, I would be very grateful if I could ask you for some advice. I understand your time is limited, so if you are busy, I will fully understand.

    Thank you once again and I look forward to hearing back from you.

    Best wishes,

    Luke

    1. Sorry, are you asking me for tips/advice? Feel free to leave a comment here or send an email with more detail.

  32. Good afternoon (their name),

    I hope you are well.

    My name is (x). I am a master’s student at (name of school) and I have recently undertaken a finance internship at (name of company).

    I found your journey from reading a (what he/she studied) to becoming (the position he/she is now in) at (he/she company) really inspiring and testament to the great opportunities available at your firm. This combined with the culture I have seen at (name of he/she company) prompted my interest in your company and I would be very grateful to be considered for a graduate role in your venture capital business.

    Whilst my background has not been conventional (e.g. before (name of my school), I established and sold two businesses for (amount) and now I am currently running a new successful venture, (name of my company), my passion for business combined with my entrepreneurial nature and ability to generate money has instilled in me the belief that (name of industry e.g. finance) is the most fulfilling career path for me.

    Given the above, could you kindly tell me whether there is any possibility that I would be invited for interview?

    Have a Happy Holiday season and a peaceful and prosperous New Year.

    Best wishes,

    (name and signature)

    1. I think it generally sounds good. A few changes:

      -Add commas here: “This, combined with the culture I have seen at (name of his/her company), prompted my interest in your company and I would be very grateful to be considered for a graduate role in your venture capital business.”

      -I think you might be giving too much information on your background in the “Whilst my background” paragraph and it might come across as “bragging” since you’re giving specific amounts for the businesses you sold.

      I would change it to:

      “Whilst my background has not been conventional (I have previous experience founding and selling two businesses, [Name 1] and [Name 2], and run [Name 3]), my passion for business combined with my entrepreneurial background has instilled in me the belief that [Industry Name] is the most fulfilling career path for me.”

      -And then I would change the part after to:

      “Given my background, could you please kindly let me know if there’s any possibility I could participate in your firm’s recruiting process?”

      The rest is fine.

      One other note (not about the email itself): you may not want to point out that you’re currently running your own business if you’re applying for VC jobs because it sends mixed signals, even if you say you’re ready to move on. It might be better to say you have already left.

  33. Hi Brain,

    Thanks for the great article. It’s very helpful especially for a non-native speaker. I’m currently studying at a community college and hoping to transfer to a target school this upcoming fall. After searching LinkedIn, Google and other sites, I usually cold-email former CC students who now work in finance for networking purposes. I’m interested to hear what you think of my cold-email template below:

    Dear Mr./Ms. [last name for senior looking people]/ or Hi [first name for recent grads or junior looking people] (Is this a bad strategy?)

    Hello, my name is John and I’m currently studying at a community college and on track to transfer to [target school name] in 2015. I’m also looking for finance internships. From [LinkedIn or wherever I found them], I noticed you had attended a community college before so I’m interested to learn about how you went from [name of their CC] to working in finance.

    Thanks,

    John

    1. Hi Brian,

      I’m sorry I misspelled your name. I tried to fix it but there doesn’t appear to be an edit function. Just another reason why people should not rely solely on spell checkers. Please accept my apologies.

      Thanks,

      John

      1. Yeah no worries, it’s by far the most common way people address me in emails if they do not use my actual name. I guess it’s sort of a compliment…

    2. I think your greeting is fine, but maybe leave out the “Hi” for junior people or recent grads. It would probably be better just to use the person’s name in that case.

      If you’re specifically contacting people who transferred from community colleges to 4-year universities, I think that template is fine.

      Also, if you’re emailing them with this request instead of messaging them via LinkedIn, you may want to add a request for a phone call at the end (“Would it be possible to speak with you for 5 minutes so you could share your insights? I know you’re extremely busy, so no worries if not, but I would greatly appreciate your advice”) so it’s clearer what you’re asking.

  34. Dear Brain,

    Thank you for your knowledge sharing.

    I have been subscribing the website and glad to enjoy all your short articles on building up career. All of them are useful, especially for a fresh graduate like me, and applicable to other fields as well.

    This particular article is giving even more impact to me, as I am not a native speaker.

    Once again, thank you for your writing and I look forward your next interesting article.

    Regards,
    Su

    1. Thanks, glad to hear it!

    2. Fabrício Almeida Negrão

      Su, if you notice that one of the mistakes is TYPO, you would re-check your email, as our friend’s name here is Brian and not Brain.
      I guess MD’s would not like to see their our name wording incorrectly
      “)

      1. Hah, that misspelling of my name is so common I actually didn’t even notice…

      2. Dear Fabricio,

        Thank you for pointing out my mistake.

        I typed the message during a sleepless night using mobile. Either that is why I overlooked it, or thanks to autocorrect.

        Dear Brian,

        Please accept my sincere apologize for typing your name wrongly,perhaps one of the biggest mistake when writing an email.

        However, this is indeed a good lesson learned.

        Thank you.

        Regards,
        Su

        1. Yeah, no worries, but as you now know – be very careful about this when emailing other people.

          1. Dear Brian,

            Thank you for accepting my apology.

            I will keep that in mind whenever I write an email.

            Looking in another way, I will always think of you whenever I write an important email. Sounds great.

            Thank you.

            Regards,
            Su

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