Investment Banking Email Networking Mistakes: What to Avoid

Investment Banking networking

Banking Investment / November 14, 2015

I got to thinking about this very question the other day…

I looked through my inbox recently and realized something:

  • 5% of my emails fell into the “What should I do with my life?” category.
  • 4% were related to GPA rounding.
  • 1% had to do with models and bottles and/or prestige. It’s ok, I just ignore these.

So what about the remaining 90%?


How to call people, how to send emails, when to call/email, what questions to ask, how to follow-up, how to find the names, how to set up in-person meetings, , and how to “make the ask.”

I looked through my networking-related emails and went through, all to answer 2 key questions:

  1. Why can’t you network your way into investment banking?
  2. What should you do about it?

I realized there are only 2 reasons why you can’t network your way into finance:

  1. You’re not persistent enough.
  2. You’re doing it the wrong way.


before landing his first job as a minor thug in a B-movie.

And then it took him years more to get the first Rocky movie made.

Oh, and he had to sell his dog to get it done.

I can inspire you with stories like these, but we’re not all like Sylvester Stallone.

The real world is not like The Matrix, and I can’t just hop out of the computer screen, give you a red pill, and then jump into your body to place all the calls and send all the emails for you.

So you’ll have to do some of the work on your own.

Doing It the Wrong Way

But the good news is that I can tell you exactly what you’re doing wrong with your networking efforts – and how to fix it.

The Top 4 Networking Mistakes You’re Making

  1. Trying Too Hard to Impress
  2. Overlooking Names & Contact Information
  3. Using the Wrong Channel(s)
  4. Not Asking for What You Want!

Trying Too Hard to Impress

You might be tempted to bring up your 4.0 GPA, your tough classes, or the shelves of awards you have when you’re speaking with recruiters.

Or maybe you’ll talk about your personal portfolio and how you earned a 95% return in 1 year while the rest of the market plunged 50%.

These are both great ideas – if you want to fall flat on your face.

You’re not going to “impress” bankers unless you’re a CEO with 20+ years of experience and you’ve taken 3 companies public for $10 billion total. And even then, would you walk into a party and introduce yourself by saying that?

Your best bet is to talk about what makes you interesting rather than what makes you impressive.

Your study abroad trip to China… how you learned guitar in Spain… your wine collection… your recent ski trip.

Bankers are surrounded by talk of the market, business, and “prestige” all day – so the last thing they want to hear is more of the same.

The more “normal” your conversations are, the more effective you’ll be.

Overlooking Names & Contact Information

The two most common ways to find names and contact information are going through alumni and through friends/family.

And these methods work – IF you happen to go to a “target school, ” or your father is President of JP Morgan Asia.

The other downfall is that everyone knows about these methods – which means that they can actually be less effective even if you go to a top school.

You need to and start going to other schools’ career fairs, talking to your professors (at all levels), going through online resources like Capital IQ / Factset that most students don’t have access to, and showing up at organizations’ meetings even if you’re NOT a member.