Why Attend Networking Events?
As mentioned, whom you know is often equally, if not more, important than what you know – and what better way to foster professional connections and relationships than via networking and recruiting events? Every year, firms, from investment banks to private equity shops, host in-person (and lately, virtual) events to connect with potential candidates. Attending these events not only shows your commitment and allows you to learn more about the firms hosting the sessions, but also allows you to speak with and potentially make a strong positive impression on professionals, boosting your chances of landing an interview down the road.
How To Network at an Event?
Not the social type? Fear not – follow the 5 tips and tricks below and you'll be well on your way to landing a job.
1. Do Your Research
Before attending an event, it's always helpful to know something unique about the company so you can have an interesting discussion about it. For investment banks, this might be a recent transaction the company was involved in and for buy-side firms, this could be a major holding. Having a dialogue about these things, picking the analyst's brain, and offering your opinions as well is a way to come across as polished and ahead of the curve.
2. Ask The Right Questions
Avoid asking questions that can easily be answered with a little bit of research, like "what industry groups does your firm cover?" or generic questions like "what is it like to work for this firm?" Instead, try to make your discussion personal and specific to the background of the person with whom you're speaking. Questions like "You mentioned you worked at a law firm before joining XYZ . What are some transferable skills you've gained from your experience as a lawyer that have helped you with your current role?" The difference between a poor question and a good question often lies in specificity.
3. Be Memorable
Often at events like these, there will be far more candidates / students than professionals / firm representatives, which means it can be difficult to stand out. While you shouldn't expect the professional to remember your name, it can be helpful to say something unique about yourself – a fact they can associate with you, which may help them remember you when it's time to sort through resumes later. This fact doesn't have to be finance-related, or even professional. If you are a yoga instructor, casually mention you teach Vinyasa classes on Sunday mornings at your local yoga studio. If you like to bake, mention how you once made a 3-tiered wedding cake from scratch. Just make sure the topic comes up naturally!
4. Keep Track of Everyone You Meet
For everyone you meet, make sure you either trade business cards with them or get their email. Additionally, as soon as reasonably possible, try to jot down a few notes on the professional to help you remember some of the key points from your conversation. You could note down what industry group your connection works in or if there is a particular sports team they mentioned they were a fan of. This only takes a few seconds but can be a valuable reference when you follow up with them later.
5. Follow Up
It's easy to show up to information sessions and networking events. What's more difficult is following up with the professionals you meet there and developing those relationships. After the event is over, be sure to follow up with the professionals whom you want to continue to connect with by sending a quick email thanking them for their time and referencing your conversation at the event (see our follow-up email templates here).