Networking is generally misunderstood by most students and indeed often by professionals too. This misunderstanding manifests itself in common misconceptions about what networking is and its role in securing a summer internship or full time job. Here at Wall Street Unlocked, we have complied a list of the top three networking myths and explain why they are not a reality.
Networking will get you a job
Networking is not a replacement for talent or diligence. While effective networking may get you an interview and perhaps even an internship, firms will not hire interns who do not perform on the job. So whilst networking is crucially important to landing an interview, it will not replace the fundamental requirements of technical ability. Nobody cares if you know the name of the MD’s kids if you can’t even do a DCF! Technical ability is important so make sure you understand valuation and accounting inside out, particularly at the analyst level. Furthermore, networking will not ensure long term career success. Long term career success comes down to a combination of intelligence, integrity and hard work.
Networking is useless
The other end of the spectrum is that some completely underestimate the importance of networking. Building relationships at your target firms and on the job requires a consistent investment of your time. It is an essential part of the process for students seeking to land a summer internship or full time offer. For students from non-target schools, networking is an even more crucial tool to ensure you get an interview. Without it, you will struggle to stand out from the thousands of resumes that are submitted to investment banks every year. That said, ineffective networking is a waste of time. Meeting people without having your elevator pitch prepared or doing research on the person you are meeting is a complete waste of time because you will fail to build a symbiotic relationship and worse, will most likely create a bad impression.
Networking is not possible as a student
Most students are skeptical or scared of networking. Some students see networking as an activity for older professionals and executives. These students are wrong. For students in target schools, investment banks devote a significant amount of time and resources to campus recruitment events. Investment banks send their employees to these events so that they can socialize and spot good potential bankers. These are excellent opportunities to introduce yourself to bankers. All conversations with junior bankers should be followed up by a thank you email and a request for a 20 minute informational call. For non-target schools, many banks have a virtual recruiting model, which does a good job replicating the target school recruiting process but it occurs online. Essentially, certain bankers within a firm will sign up to serve the role as ‘alumni’ of the non-targets schools and be the point of contact for interested candidates. They will hold introductory informational phone conversations and often Skype video chats to build up rapport and get to know the students better.
In conclusion, investment banks are open to networking, they appreciate it when students are proactive in the recruitment process and make an attempt to learn more about the firm by meeting its employees. You don’t produce a physical product in investment banking, companies pay you for your advice and expertise. Investment banking is a relationship business so developing the ability to create relationships as a student will set you up for long term success.
Finally, many view networking as superficial and absent of any tangible value to both parties. Whilst you may be skeptical of generic LinkedIn invitations, there are ample opportunities to create meaningful relationships through networking. While it is true that cold emails and phone calls are at first, artificial relationships, if you nourish them they often can flourish into tangible relationships that benefit both parties. The team here at WSU has developed many long term friendships and mentor relationships that started as a cold email for recruiting.
P.S. If you would like to learn more about banking recruiting, you should invest in our guide “Crushin’ IB Recruiting” Learn more