There are many strong blogs out there that establish the importance of a good set of friends, network of connections or a crew.
The Basics: A lot of emails have come in asking about “how to network” and the theme is the same, people are asking the wrong questions. Instead of asking how “you can get something” the question you should be asking is “How can I be a positive in a person’s life”. Networking and building a strong social circle is relatively simple at heart, 1) help someone make more money, 2) improve their sex life or 3) improve their mood by being a fun and interesting person.
Not everyone can help in categories one and two but everyone can improve in category three. Specific to Wall Street, if you are going to work in an extremely intense environment with painful working hours at times, you probably want to spend this time with someone you enjoy. Fraternities and even the military at times get a bad “rap” for their hazing and hard-core nature, but this is a great model for building strong bonds. People who think and believe in the same things will form stronger relationships compared to a host-leech relationship, going through hell and high water together forms a much stronger bond than a situation filled with rainbows and sunshine. With that said, you would not be surprised to see a large athletic, militaristic and frat culture at many banks.
Jobs: Given the above assessment what is the best course of action to give yourself an edge in networking when you start pushing your resume around? In relatively simple terms it is as follows 1) trusted personal recommendation, 2) transferable experience and 3) personality. When push comes to shove, if a candidate is not personally recommended number two sees a much tougher review process. This makes sense logically, if a MD recommends a low end Analyst/Associate and there are some minor formatting errors, the MD’s signature of approval over-rides meaningless mistakes. If you’re going in cold, this would be an immediate ding. With that said, in rank order you should tap all close connections immediately (friends, family, fraternities, linked-in connections, professors, career centers/job fairs etc.) after that you’ll be cold emailing with a clean and revised resume that shows you’re relatively intense when it comes to presentation. You will prioritize all work experience related to finance above every other activity and you’ll bring this to light in short 3 sentence intro’s during your cold emailing approach. Finally, to close out all positive email responses, you should invite people to meet for “coffee” or “drinks” at any time of their convenience (meeting in person is substantially higher ROI compared to a phone call). At that point you’re working on 2 and 3, selling any transferable skills and coming off as a positive interesting and fun person (by year 2 most people are bitter so your attitude will be welcomed).
Friends: Overall, you don’t need many close friends to have a happy life. Most people have a handful of close friends then a broader network of soft touch relationships. Below are a few questions that would be a decent filter from a purely biased perspective.
- Are you a positive person?
- Do you have an interesting career or job?
- Are you in shape?
- Do you have a real hobby such as music, cooking, dancing, singing, etc.?
- Have you traveled outside the country?
- Do you spend over an hour a day watching TV, checking mainstream news or Facebook?
- Is it easy to generalize you into a group?
- Do you get angry over things you cannot control?
- Do you say hello to a new person every single day?
- Do you spend 14+ hours a day being productive?
If you answered yes to the first five (+1) and no to all of the next five (+1), you’re in great shape. 8/10 would be respectable.
Soft Touch: A few colleagues of ours have a saying “A friend is someone you benefit from”. This is quite aggressive and is a joke, but really it is referring to soft touch friendships where you develop a relationship based on mutual gain versus the host/leech relationship mentioned earlier in this article.
An example would be a bar or club you frequent and know the crowd should yield high results for you. The trick would be to “get known”, befriend the bouncer immediately, tip the least busy bartender the most and show up to the venue at all times with a new girl or group of girls. The mutual gain should be clear, your new status helps you get more girls, you’re bringing them business and bar/club owners want to have high amounts of women (attractive*).
Alternatively, if you want to develop a business relationship the process is much the same. Create a value additive process or become the source of value additive ideas or information. Once this level of trust is passed back and forth it will snowball where you gain more trust of larger groups of individuals over a long time horizon.
Conclusion: This is a relatively short take on networking as it should be. The type A personality usually ends up taking the hard route of revising his resume multiple times and eventually landing a job but this is a long-term pain point as the real money is always in “who you know” as cliche as that sounds. With that said start expanding your comfort zone and believing in yourself because time is not on your side. It never is.