Investment Banking Networking

Tips and Strategies for Networking Your Way into Investment Banking Interviews and Job Offers

What is Investment Banking Networking?

It’s the process of finding, contacting, and speaking with investment banking professionals to build relationships, gain knowledge, and eventually win interviews and job offers via those relationships.

Put simply, networking is the best way to tip the odds in your favor when you apply for internships and full-time jobs.

It allows you to build personal relationships with bankers so that they know you as more than “3.5 GPA, decent internships, and mid-tier private university” when they review your application and see your resume or CV.

And if you’re a career changer or you do not attend a top university or business school, networking is your only chance to break into the finance industry.

With networking, there are three main strategies: 1) Conducting informational interviews, where you build connections with bankers over time; 2) Cold emailing, where you directly ask about open positions; and 3) Cold calling, where you do the same thing but on the phone instead.

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How to Conduct Informational Interviews

Investment banking informational interviews are also known as “investment banking coffee chats” or “investment banking networking events,” but the purpose is always the same: to get to know bankers before recruiting, and to use your relationships to win interviews.

Ideally, you should start requesting and conducting informational interviews 3-6 months before recruiting begins.

We have an entire article on informational interviews, but here are the basic steps in the process:

  1. Find Names – Find the names of bankers on LinkedIn and via your school’s alumni network.
  2. Find Emails and Facts – Use a site like Email Checker to guess and verify each person’s email address, and research key information about them.
  3. Request the Interview – Email each person and follow up 2-3 times if you don’t hear back.
  4. Set Up the Call – Confirm the date and time and do 15-20 minutes of additional research beforehand.
  5. Conduct the Informational Interview – Spend most of your time listening and asking questions about the other person’s career; also ask for tips on your job search.
  6. Make a “Mini-Ask” – Such as passing your resume along or asking for referrals.
  7. Send Updates – Schedule a weekend trip, or send a few email updates afterward.
  8. Make Your “Real Ask” – And directly ask the person to plug you into their firm’s recruiting process.
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How to Cold Email Your Way into Internships and Jobs

Cold emailing to ask directly for internships or jobs tends to work best if you’re an early university student, an incoming MBA student, you’re about to graduate, or you’ve just graduated from university, and you have a target school or other brand names on your resume or CV.

Cold emails offer one simple advantage over cold calls: bankers live in their email inboxes.

The steps in the process are very similar to the ones above for informational interviews, but there are a few differences:

  1. In your initial email, you ask directly about internships or jobs.
  2. On the call, get to the point and ask about openings; there’s no need for a “mini-ask.”
  3. Follow-up is essential because you’re likely to get a “no” response initially – so, keep checking back every few weeks/months to see what has changed.

The best example of cold emailing, with email templates included, is in the interview below:

Cold emailing tends to work best at boutique firms that lack formalized recruitment processes, but it can be effective at the large banks as well. It’s just that you’ll need to contact Group Heads and have a decent amount of internship experience on your resume/CV to be effective there.

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How to Cold Call Your Way into Offers

Cold calling is the last main channel you can use to contact bankers and win interviews and offers.

It tends to be effective only for undergrads and recent grads, and it rarely works at anything bigger than boutique firms.

It’s also extremely repetitive, offers a low success rate, and requires you to speak on the phone – which you’re probably quite bad at doing in the age of texting/smartphones/social media.

Nevertheless, the basic steps in the process are:

  1. Get a list of banks or bankers in your area with their names and contact information.
  2. Plan your pitch and figure out what you’re going to tell them.
  3. Place the call and be prepared to respond to their objections.
  4. Afterward, follow-up at least once a week until they tell you to stop calling.
  5. Meanwhile, continue to contact and follow-up with other firms on your list.

We unpack these steps further in the The Complete Guide to Cold Calling Your Way Into Investment Banking.

The best reader story about cold calling is in this interview:

You should think of cold calling as a “Plan C” in case nothing else has worked, it’s very late, and you need to find a job ASAP.

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Top 6 Networking Mistakes

Many students attempt to network, don’t get immediate results, and then complain that “networking doesn’t work in investment banking.”

That’s not the case since we have dozens, if not hundreds, of networking success stories here.

However, many students do approach networking incorrectly. The top mistakes we see are as follows:

  1. Trying too hard to impress – It’s better to show some vulnerability and ask for help with overcoming your weaknesses. 
  2. Using the wrong channels – LinkedIn is great for finding people, but not for corresponding with them.
  3. Writing emails that are too long or too general – Use our proven email templates.
  4. Not following up – Bankers are busy, so you need to follow up and be “politely persistent” until you get a response.
  5. Asking bad or awkward questions – Don’t ask how much money they make, how much they work, etc.
  6. Not asking directly for what you want – You must be proactive and make direct requests (“Can you please pass along my resume?”) if you want to get results. 
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Investment Banking Networking Toolkit

Investment banking has become a highly competitive and sought-after field, and nothing happens until you “get your foot in the door.”

Networking is one of the key strategies for landing banking interviews, and over the years, we’ve developed a comprehensive toolkit for making your networking journey as efficient and effective as possible.

It’s called the Investment Banking Networking Toolkit, and it’s available via our sister site Breaking Into Wall Street.

Many customers find it helpful to learn these networking tips and strategies along with interview preparation, so they choose to invest in the Networking Toolkit and Interview Guide Bundle, saving $50 in the process.

You could try to work this out yourself, or you could follow a proven process and system for getting the investment banking job you want – using our scripts, templates, guides, and support.

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