by Brian DeChesare Comments (143)

How to Turn Cold Calls Warm, Follow-Up and Avoid Awkward Alumni Conversations

cold call networkingOk, Kevin and I received a ton of great questions from everyone over the past few weeks on networking.

We finally had a chance to sit down and record this Q&A session the other day.

One small problem: it turned out to be so long that we split it up into two parts (I know, I know, you really wanted to listen to 2 hours straight of networking banter, right?).

Here’s Part 1:

[audio:http://podcasts-00.s3.amazonaws.com/Networking-QA-1.mp3]

Here’s a quick summary of the questions we cover within:

Finding Names and Contact Information

Quite a few readers asked about how to find names and contact information in the first place – here are a few questions we address:

“How about for people who do not know consultants or even finance people? How do you build those names and meet those people in the first place?”

“How would you approach making contact with complete strangers at different firms that you are interested in?”

Recession Recruiting

Aside from making it way harder to actually find a job in the first place, the recession has also pushed senior bankers out and to different firms – which can complicate your networking efforts.

“What is the next best step for recruiting in a firm when your only contact within the firm found out you will be laid off before you are ready to utilize him to break into the company?”

“Do you have any tips on getting in touch with former senior colleagues?”

Turning Cold Calls Into Warm Calls

There were dozens of questions on cold calls, but they all boil down to the same basic question: How do you successfully cold-call banks? Here’s what we discuss:

“I was wondering what the dos and don’ts for cold calling are in general? On the outline it appears to have great potential. Most of my colleagues however discard cold calling outright. Is it a strategy you would recommend?”

Following-Up with Your Contacts

Once you’ve contacted your alumni, made your cold-calls, and met industry contacts anywhere else, how do you properly follow-up and win interviews and then offers? Here’s what we answer:

“If you’ve done a lot of cold calling with several different firms, how do you exactly followup after the initial call?”

“Is there any way to keep in touch with senior partners even if you don’t have a reason why to follow-up and instead you just want to keep in contact?”

“Also if you could please talk about how can they follow-up after an MD or analyst showed interest in their resume”

“Over time, as you contact alumni, the numbers will accumulate. How would one go about maintaining these contacts before recruiting season and then when the time comes, how do you make the ask?”

“After meeting someone whom I would like to network with at a networking event, what is the appropriate follow-up? What is a good way to keep in touch?”

“When the time comes, how do you make the ask for opportunities to interview?”

Awkward Alumni

Some readers are still struggling with contacting alumni and sounding natural. Hint: pretend you’re speaking with a friend, and avoid focusing on work-related topics.

“I contacted some alumni in the past with a phone conversations that eventually became Q&A, it felt very awkward and a little bit dry. If you had mentees contacting you in the past, how would you suggest making the conversation more interesting, getting to know them personally and even establishing a friendship. What kind of mentees are mentors looking for and what’s their incentive as a mentor for sharing information with someone who they don’t know?”

Next up will be Part 2, where we cover how to network while abroad, move to different groups, develop relationships during your internship, and address some finance and consulting-specific topics.

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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Comments

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  1. Hello. If I want to connect with people on LinkedIn should my first message ask for a ten-minute phone call to learn about their experiences? DO you have any LinkedIn cold message template?

    1. No. LinkedIn is fine for finding people, but for actually contacting them, email is far better. LinkedIn messages can work if you keep them very short, but we almost always recommend email as the first step.

      https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/investment-banking-email-template/
      https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/investment-banking-linkedin-profile/

  2. Hi Nicole,

    I recently sent an off-cycle internship inquiry email to an elite boutique IB (I got the email address from my friend who just done an internship there) and the HR replied the other day to ask me when I could start, how long I’m available and my career plan after graduation. I answered her but heard nothing after that and it’s been 2 days now. Now it really confuses me. Is the last repay just being polite or they really have some interest in me and they need to discuss this with senior people? Should I send a another email to follow up? If so, how should I phrase more appropriately?

    Thanks a lot.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes I’d send another email to follow up with HR. Just send her a brief message thanking her for her time to speak and asking her if she’s got any updates re. roles.

      Yes these are standard questions HR raise; just because they raise these questions doesn’t really mean anything so I wouldn’t take it too seriously

      1. Right I see. Thanks Nicole. I just send her an email and lower my expectations :(

  3. Hi Brian,

    I’m a rising sophomore at a non-target university. I’m majoring in finance and dreaming about breaking in investment banking. Around four months ago I met with MD at investment bank at a networking dinner organized by school. He was very open and shared his story about how he got to where he is now. After the dinner I followed up with him by email and he said he’d be glad to keep in touch. The question is, how to maintain communication with him? I’d really want to get to know him closer and develop good long-term relationship but I’d also want to get an internship at his firm next summer. Any advice on that?
    PS: he’s an alumnae from my school

    Thank you so much in advance!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I’d send him an email from time to time, and perhaps request an informational meeting/coffee close to his office. You may want to do research on him to see if you have any common interests (other than your school) so this can help your conversation!

  4. Hi!

    I am an undergraduate senior and am graduating this December. I have started cold-calling banks near my hometown in the midwest, but some people have told me to expand my reach and call firms in the south/southwest. My question is, if they call me and want to meet, will they expect me to fly out and pay for my own expenses? Am I supposed to front that cost for a potential job?

    Thanks!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      It depends on the firms. The established ones are likely to pay for your expenses. If they don’t offer, you can ask, especially if they ask you to meet them in their offices.

  5. Hi guys

    Am currently working in middle office of a large bank, was wondering if I could “cold email” (using the intranet system) MDs from IB arm of the bank.

    Some stats about me : Am almost at the end of my 3 month summer internship. Am a freshman, and also the youngest intern. Very passionate about breaking into i-bank industry, read FT, WSJ and dealbook etc everyday and have already warmed up 3 contacts at the top ibank I want to ultimately work, but want to make full use of my time here in this bank too.

    Please advice. Appreciate this site so much, a million thanks to Brian and Nicole!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes, if you’re at the end of your internship, most definitely cold-email one of the MDs and ask to grab coffee.

  6. Hi, if I’m looking to try and cold-call places to ask for an interview but I live in a different city where it would be too expensive for me to go down for an interview what am I supposed to do?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      You may want to cold-call and set up informational calls first. If you were to be interviewing in a different city, most banks will cover your travel expenses.

  7. Hi,

    I have applied for some Hedge Fund jobs through online job postings, but have not heard back from the firms. It has been about 4 weeks since I applied (which basically only included submitting my resume through online job portals or my school’s job board).

    I wanted to follow up on my applications. Is it a good idea to email the firms, or should I forget the email & straightaway call them up?

    Also, can you give a template of the email I should use.

    Thanks,
    Sg!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I don’t think you’d get much from emailing/calling these firms because you haven’t personally developed a relationship with the people there. If you have, then I’d email that specific person and follow up. No we don’t have an email template for that.

      1. Thanks Nicole,

        I haven’t developed a relationship with people at these firms, but now that I have applied, I wanted to follow up instead of just letting my application die away. Between emailing & calling, what would you choose, and how would you go about structuring the email / conversation? Thanks!

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          If you haven’t developed a relationship with people at these firms, I believe it will be more difficult to follow up to be honest. I’d suggest calling HR rather than emailing them because its not likely that they will respond to your email. You may find this article https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/cold-calling-investment-banking/ useful. Just be concise and straightforward, and ask if there’s any way you can increase your chances going forward

  8. Since summer recruiting is over for most banks, what would be a good mini-ask for a conversation with an alumni at a BB bank? I go to a non-target but was able to get a call through an honors program we both are a part of.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I would speak with him/her re. your passion in the industry, ask him/her for their thoughts on the industry and advice, and ask him/her to keep you in mind of any upcoming opportunities etc. I wouldn’t push it too much at first because you haven’t established a connection with him/her

      1. Thanks for the reply. I also have a chance to meet live with a VP at a boutique after having a informational interview that went well. What would be the best way to make a mini-ask for a possible internship with their bank even if I will be willing to do it unpaid?

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          If you’re younger and want to use this strategy, I would state this upfront (“I wanted to ask about unpaid summer intern openings…”) only if you’re going for the tiny, no-name, 3-4 person firms. Even most “boutique,” middle-market, and other, smaller banks have formal recruiting processes in place and will not be receptive to this approach – so I’d save it for an objection rebuttal if it comes up. https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/unpaid-finance-internships-jobs/

  9. In your opinion, if I spell someone’s name wrong in an email after we have had multiple conversations am I dead in the water and no making an interview list? I know the answer could be “it depends” but in your experience how us that mistake perceived?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Haha, maybe? I wouldn’t worry too much about it. I would correct it in the next email and apologize for your mistake. If that person has been corresponding with you even though you’ve been spelling his/her name wrong, I would suggest you to relax

  10. Avatar
    GradStudent

    Hey, I am a current grad student and recently had the chance to meet the chairman of the supervisory board of a BB and could talk to him about 45 minutes in a private one on one setting. After a while he gave me his business card without me asking for it and now I am wondering how I could follow it up and turn this into something.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Most definitely. Follow up ASAP

  11. I am at a non-target and I am applying to BB, middle markets, and boutiques (time consuming – but the more I apply the better chances I have at interviews).

    I have been emailing HR’s my cover letter & resume or filling out the appropriate online applications.

    Even though I have already submitted my info, should I still cold call/cold email MDs and VPs to try and get my info through to the hiring manager?

    Thanks for all of the advice – you guys have been beyond helpful.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes. Try to contact them if you can

  12. I cold emailed an alumni/MD at the local (small city) office of a middle market bank. He agreed to a phone conversation which went well. He said he would put in a good word to the hiring manager. I also met an analyst of the same firm while on vacation in a financial hub, who agreed to recommend me via email to the hiring manager. So I applied for an Analyst position online and listed the analyst as my referral (I applied before my phone convo with the MD). It’s been a month since I applied and the listing is still posted on the website. I want to follow up with my application but I’d rather not annoy an MD with my job app status after he already said he would help. And I don’t know a hiring manager to have the analyst email. I’m tempted to show up and request to speak to whomever is in charge of hiring but I don’t want to come off as crazy. I can’t find any HR or Front Desk/Receptionist phone numbers online for the local office. Suggestions?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      If it has already been a month since you last spoke to the MD, call him and ask him what he thinks – keep it brief & succinct

  13. Brian,

    Thank you for this brilliant website. I’d just like to share my two cents on my experience. So I’m a junior and I had no IBD internship or anything remotely close. Summer was ending and I needed something before next summer to get an edge. I resorted to cold calling botiques and middle market firms. Like you informed, I compiled a list of about 50 banks (all i needed, maybe less) in my area (Washington D.C.), created a cold calling template of my name, university, and why I’m calling, and tried my best to focus on bankers that were alumni at my school. Most of the bankers I found were MDs because on the bank websites, you find them the most. After about only a week of cold calling I was able to find a Fall internship in the cyber-securities sector of an IBD middle market firm. Without this website I would have never thought possible to acquire such an internship. Now I’m attending firm calls and working on actual projects. Mind you, I have a subpar gpa and no experience. The MD that hired me told me it was my persistence that sparked his interest in me and I believe that if you are diligent enough, no matter what you set your mind to, its possible.

    Thanks!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Thanks for sharing!

  14. I’ve been reaching out a lot of alumni who are working in IB, and I encountered many different advises when talking about my interest to them. One of the alumni was in consulting division, and implied that I should be interested into consulting and come up specific question in consulting if i need any advise from him. Another alumni who’s working for sales and trading also didn’t sound interested at all when I didn’t lead the conversation into the area in Sales and Trading.

    My question is, how much knowledge or research in certain division do you recommend us to have when networking with people who are working in the bank I’m interested in, but not precisely their division/department? Also, Can I ask for contacts from different division they belong to?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I’d recommend you to have at least done some background research on the bank, the division you are interested in, and the party you will be meeting before interacting with them. Yes, but try to give them “space”

  15. You should start a regular podcast. I thought this mp3 was great.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes, we will release a podcast soon!

  16. what if you’re not in school and have no internships? can you still get internships or will the banks not have interns that already have a degree?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes, yours is a tougher case. You’d have to demonstrate that you know finance inside out, are very articulate, determined and have a burning desire to succeed in the industry, more so than anyone else.

  17. Hi m&i,

    I’m a soph at a non target uni in nyc (hint, we play basketball at msg). My question is regarding an SA industrials opening at lloyds tsb. I have applied online and recently started cold calling. Unfortunately , whenever I call I ask to get transferred to HR and always encounter the answering machine. I always get emailed with openings yet have not been able to get in touch. Any suggestions on what I should do next? I do have an SA position at a wealth management firm in midtown but I really find this position attractive as I want to get an I banking internship going into junior summer. Your help would be greatly appreciated.

    Best regards,

    Np

    1. Find contact information for other people at the firm… use something like Factset or Bloomberg to look up peoples’ information or just do a Google search for their names instead. Or, search for the people on LinkedIn by the firm name and try contacting them through there… go to individuals if you can’t get through via the main line.

      1. just found some good stuff on linkedin. thanks so much brian.

        np

  18. Hi,

    Would you consider late February and early March about time to start cold calling?

    Thanks

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      You should have started cold calling in Aug/Sept before the formal recruiting season but you can technically cold-call anytime in the year

      1. I’m sorry for not being specific. With things like summer internships for undergraduate juniors, I’ve read on M&I that cold calling should be reserved until late in the recruiting season. If alumni networking and informational interviews haven’t been giving any leads, would now be a good time to start cold calling?

        Thanks

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Yes. Good luck!

  19. Hi, I recently had a couple of interviews and on the phone, I noticed that at the end, when we were saying bye, it was very awkward. I dont know how to get past that because usually with friends or someone I can be less professional and more direct I would directly say, “Talk to you later, bye”. However, with recruiters, usually at the end they sometimes go silent and I have to say, “Well it was great talking with you, thanks! bye” “bye”, which is really awkward. did you have this problem closing conversations? just curious. Thanks!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      No, its just the end of a conversation – nothing awkward about it.

  20. Hey Brian,

    I’m a sophomore at a semi-target (top 10 undergrad bus. school but not an Ivy) and I have my first phone conversation with an associate at a MM firm in NYC in a few days. Is it okay to keep the conversation mainly i-banking related as we haven’t had a lot of time to discuss his path in banking yet? He went to my school so we already have that in common. I know you and others advocate talking about things outside of work, but since this is our first phone conversation, how would you proceed? I met him a week ago through a trip to the firm and I want to develop this relationship over the next couple years.

    Thanks!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Try to establish a genuine connection w him. Ask him what he likes/dislikes about his job,how he got there etc (his story). Talk about your common interests outside of work…then ask more question IB…just keep the conversation flowing but not too work related

  21. Does it make sense to leave a voice message?

  22. Hi guys, first of all, love the site!
    It’s that time of year and I’m starting to apply to banks/funds/boutiques about internships, just needed some guidance as to the best way to structure an “introductory” cold email. This is what I’ve got so far:
    “To Bank…,
    My name is … and I am currently a 2nd year student at …, undertaking a Finance degree. I wanted to see how to best secure an internship at your firm over the coming summer holidays, or how I could best position myself for an internship at your firm. I would really appreciate any time that you could spare to talk, or any information that you could provide about future opportunities.
    Yours Sincerely…”
    Or should I go into more depth, i.e. grades, background, previous work experience?
    Thanks!

    1. That is fine but eliminate the option you give them and just name one thing. Keep it short and attach resume.

  23. Hi,

    I have another question about following up. I have been calling MD’s for the past two weeks, and I can easily say that I got three kinds of responses:
    1- MD’s saying: “your profile is really interesting, send me your resume and we’ll take it from there”
    2- MD’s saying: “we are not currently hiring, call us back in 2-3 months, send your resume we’ll keep it on file”
    3- MD’s saying: “No positions available in the near future, you can always send me your resume and i’ll keep it on file”

    My question is: Should I follow up with #2 and #3? When and how often?

    Also, regarding #1, Should I give them 2 weeks and call again to ask what happened? or maybe longer/shorter period of time?

    Note that I already graduated and I’m looking for something to start soon, i.e. I am not looking to network and build relationships that would land me an offer in a year!

    Thanks a lot!

    1. Also, some of the MD’s told me: “we will not be hiring. But send me your resume and i’ll look around for you to see if I find something for you!”

      How often do you suggest I follow up with this type? Should I call them and say: “Hey listen, I called you before and sent you my resume, and you promised to look around and see whether you find something suitable for me. Any updates?”

      Thanks!

      1. Avatar
        M&I - Nicole

        Yes. Follow up but don’t put it the way you put it cause they don’t have to find something for you. Really. If they do find you leads, its because they want to, not because they have to. And if they do introduce you to people, be thankful cause not everyone does that.

    2. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Follow up with all three. With 2, call him back in 2 months. With 2 & 3, say I understand but do you still have time to grab coffee sometime cause I really want to understand more about what you do and how I can potentially help you. The worst they can say is a no.

      With 1, one week.

  24. Hey, I’ve emailed a number of IBs over the last few days. I only contacted MDs. I plan to give them a few days and then call them to follow up. Today, I received an email stating:

    “Thank you for your recent inquiry regarding an analyst position at ________. While you have made commendable achievements and have impressive experience, we are not presently looking to add any new analysts at our firm right now. We will certainly keep your information on file and reach out if the need arises. We wish you success in your employment endeavors.”

    I certainly hope to have better luck with other places but is it bad if I ask why or push them for a PT position or a trial position? I will wait a few days before doing so because I want to have a chance to call the other firms before resorting to this ‘desperate’ move.
    Thanks!

    1. Yes you can do that but I would just call and ask why, do a search for “cold call” here for the cold calling guide and more tips.

  25. Hi Brian,

    I’m at a semi target in the UK and through tracking down alumni I have noticed there’s a guy high up in an elite boutique. I have tried guessing his email but no response and I don’t have a contact number so where should I go from here? I’m thinking calling up the office number but then how do I get through the gatekeepers because I imagine they’re pretty strict on MDs time.

    Also what do I say?! I always panic and fuck up on the phone! I’m fine in person but telephones will be the death of me!

    Thanks Brian, it’s amazing the effort uve gone to make this website and I thoroughly appreciate everything, your guides are spot on too, helped me immensely.

    1. If you can’t get his number just call the mainline… see: https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/cold-calling-investment-banking/

  26. If i reached the main office of a small boutique firm, and the reception told me to just search their website for career opportunities. Is it pretty much a dead end from here? Or should I fight my way to talk to a banker? or would that just be impolite?

    thank you

    1. Fight your way to a banker, try giving specific names also do a search for “cold calling” here to find more coverage.

  27. Hey M&I,

    Should you always attach an email when cold-calling? Or is it also okay to give a brief description and offer to send the resume should the employer reply?

  28. Avatar
    Joseph F

    Hi M&I,

    I’m new to your site and was wondering if you could shed some light to turning cold alumni into warm contacts? I’m a freshman at a target school and I am having trouble asking for a shadowing position over summer. A few alumni and I have exchanged emails in both professional and social manners, however, I am uncertain to when it is appropriate to ask for a coffee chat in which I plan to ask for an opportunity to shadow over summer.

    Any advice is greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,

    Joe

    1. Avatar
      Joseph F

      Are there any successful techniques that you may have used during your time in College?

      1. I went to school 5,000 years ago so back in those days we did not have phones… kidding but the above plus everything else on the site under Networking is really the sum total of what dozens of readers have used to cold call their way in.

  29. Avatar
    Farmer Joe

    Hi Brian,
    I am cold calling a lot of bankers directly and they dont seem to be picking up. I usually call between 2 and 5. Is there a better time to call? and should i ever leave a voicemail?

    Thanks!

    1. Avatar
      Farmer Joe

      Sorry one more thing. Is it ok that I am calling MDs at firms that have about 20-30 people, or should I call a VP instead?

      1. That is fine

    2. Try calling before gatekeepers arrive (8:30 AM) or after they leave (5 PM) – don’t leave a voicemail unless you have tried dozens of times and can’t get through.

  30. this is an unusual one, I’m a long experienced professional cartoonist, over the years I’ve produced a large amount of group and individual portraits for magazines, newspapers and presentations of bankers and M&A groups. I’m looking to promote my services within the industry and a contacts list would be most useful if you have one available. My site will give you an idea of what I’m about.
    Regards Steve

    1. Not sure about that one – you might be better off going to publications like the WSJ. I have not been in finance for years now so my contacts are limited.

  31. So I found out that a somewhat distant relative (uncle’s nephew) is an MD at a bank. He also got his MBA where I’m currently doing my undergrad. How should I approach contacting him?

    1. Just ask the uncle or the nephew for a referral and mention that he went to the same school as you.

  32. Hey,

    Great video, I found it very useful. I actually have a few questions about following up that you didn’t cover. I actually met a couple of people at different information sessions that I had a conversation with and offered to forward my resume. However, when I emailed them, they did not respond.

    1) Is it okay to email/call them again? Where I should draw the line between trying again and being a nuisance?

    2) If I have already been picked for an on campus interview, should I continue to try to network with alumni who I haven’t talked to?

    3) If I wasn’t selected for an on campus interview, do I still have a shot at securing an interview through networking?

    Thanks

    1. https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/investment-banking-informational-interviews/
      https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/noticed-when-networking/

      Follow-up once a week; continue to network even if you’ve been picked but don’t spend most of your time there; if you don’t get an interview via on-campus recruiting your chances are not great but networking at smaller firms may still work.

      1. Thanks for your advice!

  33. First of all, I just want to say, great website.

    My question is, if I’m just going to be a freshmen in college next year, what would be an appropriate time to start cold calling/emailing?

    1. Um you don’t want to get started too early… you need to worry about a junior year internship not one right now. Maybe just start asking around and going to events.

      1. Alright, thanks. Appreciate it.

  34. Avatar
    Sam Fisher

    Is it too early to start cold calling/e-mailing?

    I am looking at small boutiques, most of them don’t have a specific ‘hiring’ department. All of the MD’s contact info is on the website though, is it appropriate to cold e-mail one of them?

    1. For internships, no, November is fine to start calling/emailing. And yes it is fine to cold-email people, that is the only way you get into the industry.

  35. I called A in a bank but he was not interested in my background.

    when i call B, should i mention I talked with A to warm up the cold call/email?

    My concern is in that small regional office, they may know each other and talk to each other, which may make B ignore me either.

    What should I do?

    1. If it’s a small regional office I wouldn’t do that – they will talk anyway, but don’t introduce yourself by referencing A.

  36. Hi Brian,

    I just recently graduated (MSc Banking and International Finance -specialising in Corporate Finance, company valuations etc) and am looking for a job asap (so graduate schemes are not an option as they start next year in September). I have a list of about 90 Private Equity firms based in London and I am planing to start cold calling and speculative applications (e-mails)…I have some experience in banking through internships but its not directly related to i-banking or PE (its Commercial and Retail Banking) so my questions are:
    -How likely is it that PE companies would take interns (entry level) on board? Am I wasting my time?
    -For a number of these companies I have an office manager contact info. How effective is it to contact Office Managers? Do you think they are more likely to disregard my contact? Should I get in touch with someone more senior such as Advisors?

    I’m getting pretty confused and unsure as to how to get into one of these small highly specialised companies, what approach to take and whether it is even possible..You also talked about PE resumes in one of your posts but it referred to experienced applicatns…

    Thx a lot for all the posts, veeery helpful!

    1. 1) They do it but it’s less common than at banks. Not a waste of time.

      2) More senior people are better to contact if you can. Office managers have limited influence.

  37. Brian- What kind of questions do you think are good when you talk to M&A lawyers, and how useful are they? I found some names who deal a lot with bulge bracket banks, so I’m giving it a try. But I’m not familiar with speaking with them, so not sure how to convey my main interest in I-Banking to them and ask for referral. Thanks a ton!

    1. Ask mostly about their careers/backgrounds in the beginning as you normally would in an info interview and then at the end mention you’re also interested in M&A itself and ask for anyone they know there.

  38. I have one year left of my degree from top school in london and want to go into i-banking. from what I am hearing many of the analyst positions are already filled. I have no contacts but career fairs are a couple of weeks aways. Should I just apply online now or wait until the fair and “get some connections”? seems quite risky to wait that long.

    1. Start networking and cold-calling ASAP… if you haven’t done internships or networking to this point it’s going to be extremely tough.

  39. Avatar
    Networkmachine

    Hi,

    I am trying to break into investment banking and had an informational meeting with one of the top MDs (members of the Board) of one of the elite boutiques. He offered to put me in touch with the head MDs of the group that I am interested in so I could meet with them but I fear because he is extremely busy he might forget. How do you suggest I refresh his memory in a kind way? Should I remind his assistant directly? Thanks!

    1. Yes ask his assistant or just send him a quick email to remind him.

  40. Avatar
    masterbanker

    I have a question about the informational interviewing/networking process. I’ve already had a couple informational interviews with alumni and they’ve been going well. I’ve received a huge amount of useful information and advice in regard to what I need to do to break in. As I continue to network and set up more of these meetings, how should I adjust my approach? Obviously some of the questions and topics I brought up in the first meetings I already know the answers to now. So how can I continue to network and keep it fresh and genuine when I pretty much have a lot of the basic info already? Thanks and great site!

    1. You can change around your questions as you move on… just come up with more specific questions based on the person’s background rather than the more general questions you started with.

  41. I used LinkedIn to network with loads of people and got a few replies…. But those people are now leaving the BB to move on with their careers elsewhere! What do I do?

    I’m in the UK-London so maybe networking ‘works differently’ here? The max I can get out of my contacts is a CV/Cover Letter check and their experience/advice. When I ask if I can drop in and say hi to their team, see how/where they work etc they don’t mind but shift me to the formal recruitment process/HR (because its effort for them). What do I do?

    1. Still contact them, just ask for referrals to their friends still in banking. Networking can be a bit different in the UK but the core principles still apply… just make things as easy as possible and don’t even ask about CV/cover letter checks… go for quick, specific questions and referrals and adopt the attitude of “I’m giving them a welcome break from work” rather than “How much can they do for me?”

      1. Can you briefly explain how the networking in the UK differs from the USA? Is it worth contacting Directors/VPs rather then analysts/associates?
        I’ve found if I don’t ask about CV/cover Letter checks they tend to ignore my email as they feel that’s their only ‘use’ (as they know getting an internship if my primary focus).
        And by asking for a referral within the bank – wont it be a bit rude indicating ‘you’re not good enough and I need someone else’?

        1. In the UK people are more traditional and more emphasis is placed on cover letters / CVs / online applications rather than relationships, so the response rate will be lower overall. You can still use the same strategies, but they just won’t work as well – unfortunately there’s no magic, UK-specific phrase or tactic that will open doors.

          You may want to focus more on bankers who are not from the UK originally as they may be more receptive to networking – and if you find that nothing you do gets through to bankers, think about other options like Master’s programs for gaining better access to recruiters.

          Asking for referrals isn’t rude – you’re saying, “You’ve been very helpful – I know you’re busy and don’t want to take up too much of your time, so can you please refer me to anyone else who might also be helpful?” not “You’ve been useless, who else is better?”

          1. LOL! Thanks! :)

            Im not sure if i should post this here but…

            You said theres a stronger emphasis on CVs/CLs/Applications in the UK. So does the CV/CL templates (esp the CL template) still apply in the UK (ie if i use that template then will it be okay?). And the same question for your banker-blueprint booklet. :)

          2. They still apply, but again networking tends not to work quite as well because of the culture.

  42. Thanks for the reply. I did meet her in-person and I realized some people are more open about personal stuff than others. So, I wanted to follow-up on where we left (like she told me she had to run to pick up her family members for a trip). Just worried that people might consider that in-genuine because they know why you want to meet, especially when FT is approaching. Based on previous correspondence, my contact usually replied in half a day. I’m new to the networking scene, do you think this is a blunder? she was very nice and understanding of how hard it’s from non-target and even told me to send questions/updates anytime, btw.
    Also, is it bad if you talk to 6-7 different people at the same firm since it’s such a small community? There are several firms where there is absolutely no alumni, so I sent out emails to many different people and waited. At some, I got responses from 6 or 7 people while none from others. Did that actually hurt?

    1. I would not worry or think too much about it, just proceed and follow-up with here. 6-7 people are fine to talk to, but I wouldn’t start conversations with 50 people at one bank

  43. Is it not appropriate to ask questions about family vacations and stuff when you stay in touch with your contacts? I remember my contact mentioned something about her family’s vacation when we met, so in my recent email I asked how it went and how her parents and kids are doing lol, besides asking about the working environment at her firm. I haven’t heard back in like a week (yea I know they’re busy), so I’m not sure if my email sounds probing. But I have read over and over that try to stay away from too many work-related questions and touch on something personal if possible. But the last thing I want is to make myself sound like a stalker. Do you think I should follow up again and ask stuff that’s strictly business?

    1. You can ask about that, but I wouldn’t be too probing unless you’ve met in-person before. I would just follow-up if you haven’t heard back in a week and make sure you’re asking a specific work-related question as well

  44. another question…it seems I have been getting transferred to HR quite often…is there anyway to get them to transfer me to someone real? Can you give me an example of what kind of excuses I need to get myself transferred to a banker from the receptionist?

    Thank you

    1. You should read some of the case studies on cold-calling on this site for tips on this one:

      https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/investment-banking-engineer-no-finance-background/

      https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/investment-banking-from-state-school-no-finance-background/

      Just say, “I’m scheduled to speak with ___________ today” or if you don’t have a name just sweet-talk them and say “Thanks, but I really need to speak with an investment banker – I’ve contacted your firm before and was told to speak with bankers for these types of inquiries.”

      1. i have read the two articles…VERY helpful indeed.

        but what happens when you finally find a way to talk to the head of the ibanking department and HE tells you to talk to HR…what should i do then? :(

        1. Tell him that you want to talk to him because you know he has decision-making power and HR is useless.

  45. Hi,

    First of all I really want to thank you for all the advises. They are really helpful.

    I am a math student in the University of Waterloo in Canada and I will be graduating in 2011. Since most banks in US don’t even know about my school…I pretty much have no shots at the BBs…

    Due to my quantitative background, I am thinking of applying to some of the smaller hedge funds and I think cold calling them is my best bet here. However, I want to know who to call when I make the cold calling…I know that you have said that it’s better to call the MDs first…but what if I can get the number of the CEO/President of the firm?(they are just listed on the website. I don’t know why most people find it hard to find their contact info. Am I doing something wrong here?) Should I be calling them first? Are they even aware of the need of a summer intern since they are so high up?

    Thank you VERY MUCH

    1. You can certainly call the CEO if it’s a small firm. I probably wouldn’t cold-call the CEO of Goldman Sachs, for example, but CEOs of smaller firms are fine to call so I wouldn’t hesitate to do that if you have the info.

      1. Hi

        Thank you for your reply. I have started cold calling today. However, I have another question here: If the firm I call is not big, but has multiple departments (ibanking, sale & trading, asset management, etc), should I be calling the specific department that I want to get my internship at? but then usually small/mid size firm only provide one general phone line and when I ask to speak with the person in charge of hiring, the receptionist just transfer me to some person without asking with department I want to be employed at…

        I am kind of confused here. so could you please give me an over view of how small/mid size IBanks operate?

        Thanks again

        1. Yes call the specific department unless you don’t have the information. When you call, just say “Can you put me through to whoever does hiring for the __________ department” or just say “The head of the ______ department.”

  46. Hi,

    1st of all, thanks for this entire site, I’ve been following it for the last 1-2 years and it’s helped me come a long way… unfortunately I haven’t even made it past 1st round interviews for 4 BBs so I’m continuing my search for a summer internship. I’m about to cold call several boutiques that I’ve already resume dropped online – do you have any suggestions on what time I should call? Is there a general lull in the day that would be best to inquire about summer internships? Thanks again for all the help.

    1. I would try to call early morning or early evening so you avoid the gatekeepers… otherwise try late morning or early afternoon because sometimes you can catch people right before or after lunch.

  47. should i use english or cantonese when i try to cold call a person in Hong Kong ???

  48. Hi,

    Who should I be targeting to cold call at boutiques? Analysts, Associates, MDs or partners?

    S

    1. MDs/Partners are best because they have the most power, but go for Analysts/Associates if you can’t get through to them or can’t get their info.

  49. You have mentioned cold calling as many boutiques or merchant banks as possible. Is there any place you could find a list of places to call?

    1. I’m releasing regional lists of boutique banks, PEs, and HFs next month as part of an upcoming Networking product.

  50. the link is broken. Could you please re-upload the mp3 file?

    thanks

    1. Should be working again shortly…

  51. Hey there’s not much new to add there. I’ve thought about it writing it before but after awhile, you’ve written all there is to know on a particular topic… it is not that much different from summer analyst success. I’ll see if I can do something but I’m also increasingly busy these days.

  52. Avatar
    Fresh start

    Any chance you could do a post on how to excel during your 1st year as analyst? You have done such great stuff on summer analyst stuff!! Keep up the great work.

  53. Dear M&I,

    What type of job would you recommend to a foreign (Taiwanese) student who graduated from Columbia in Masters in Financial Engineering?

    1. At this point, anything you could get – you’ll need to network like crazy esp. if you have no experience. I would cast a wide net and pay special attention to hedge funds and anything else with a quantitative edge.

  54. Is it too late to cold call for boutique i-banking internships in June? (finals don’t finish until June) This was a tough year in terms of recruiting, and I was unable to obtain anything…

    1. Still worth a shot. I’ve had readers who secured internships only recently, so it’s still worth trying especially at small places.

      1. I managed to snag in a summer internship at a lower-tier MM between my sophomore and junior years; that was at the last moment when I called one of the higher-ups about their company’s internship program. I’m going to do a PWM/AM internship with top-tier AM firm (think of AXA, MSSB, BNY-Mellon, etc. in terms of prestige).

  55. Hi, if I am unable to obtain a summer internship in i-banking or PE, what’s the next best alternative? Would a hedge fund internship help for fall recruiting?

    1. Yes, hedge fund would be next best alternative. After that, corporate/business development, corporate finance at a company…

      1. I am currrently wrapping up an internship at UBS, wealth management, where I work for one of their top advisors in the country. Through the course of my summer internship we have been transitioning from what they call PACE accounts (need discretion to make changes in their portfolio) to a new program – PMP (do not need the client’s discretion to make changes).

        During this time period (3 – 4 months) we have increased revenues of the branch by 15%.

        Is this something that I can include in my resume when submitting it to an IB?

        Also, I am a non-traditional student where I did not go to college right away and started a business of my own. Although I feel as if this internship may help me obtain an IB internship (might just be my over confidence lol). Should I not talk about the fact that I stayed away from college for a while? I do not want to hinder my chances at getting at the very least, an interview with an IB.

        Thoughts or suggestions would be great.

        Thank you,

        Frankie

        1. Yes definitely include that just make it clear that you didn’t do it 100% by yourself. I would not emphasize that you stayed away from college because they’ll think you’re too much of a wildcard.

  56. I’m gonna be headed out to Boston for a few days and am going to try set up meetings through cold calling while I’m there. Are there different strategies I should use to try and get in touch with people while I’m there i.e. showing up at the physical building (even though that sounds kinda creepy)

    1. Not really, showing up in-person would be kinda creepy actually so I wouldn’t do it.

      Just make sure they all know that you’re there in-person and that you’re ready to meet whenever they’re available.

      I don’t think the actual strategies you’d use would be too much different.

  57. Avatar
    Ryan from UVA

    I got some Yerba Mate a couple weeks ago, and I fell asleep after drinking it. What brand do you drink that keeps you so awake?

    1. Hmm I forget the exact brand now but my roommate imported it directly from South America. Make sure it’s the looseleaf kind, the other varieties are kind of weak.

  58. Avatar
    Cookies Cutter Pro

    I enjoyed listening to the conversation and dialogue between the two of you.

    I think this was great content to add some more variety to M&I.

    I think in the future it could be a good format to conduct interviews with current bankers/successful candidates.

    1. Even if I paid them $1 million, no one would ever go on the record if they’re actually in the industry or about to go into the industry.

      That’s the ultimate problem with doing interviews in this market – we’re limited to text, because anonymity is a requirement to get any real information.

      1. I’m okay with giving real information on the record in exchange for $1 million :)

        1. I doubt it, because if you actually get into i-banking then you would earn a lot more than that over a 10-20 year timespan…

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