By Hal Campbell
1. Asking Generic Questions
I do get a fair share of LinkedIn messages from students and graduates who are keen to break into investment banking and 99% of the time they would ask for “advice” on how to break into IBD. The content of the email is super generic and is easily a copy-and-paste job. Chances are, these students have reached out to multiple professionals like myself, and like them, we also know how to spot low-effort messages. Essentially in the end, we will pass the bucket to another person thinking someone else will answer but not me.
Major tip here is to personalise the message, introduce yourself and what you have done, and WHY NOW have you decided to reach out. Keep it short and sweet. In addition, it’s ok to address them as their first name, not Miss/Mr.
2. Being A Spammer
Two messages a day is A LOT. I know in certain situations, a student might have an assessment centre coming up last minute so there is real urgency here for advice. It is best to allow the responder time to read the message first before following up again. Acting too keen comes across as if you just want something from the responder at your convenience.
3. Afraid To Follow Up
This point follows nicely from the one above. In reality, finance professionals are busy people and sometimes they might forget to answer messages on LinkedIn because most of the time they are on work email. Don’t be afraid to follow up in a polite manner 2-3 days later. After following up and you still don’t get a reply, chances are they are extremely busy or have no intention of answering. It’s time to move on.
4. Lack Of Research
I have had questions asking for advice on how to get into Sales & Trading or a completely different sector to what I actually do. Before reaching out to someone in the sector, doing your own research and perhaps try to answer your OWN questions first before coming to someone else to get their advice. Each individual will have unique experiences and how they got to where they are, so reading their LinkedIn profile carefully before contacting them is a sensible approach.
5. Not Making Genuine Connection
Finance is a small world and chances are once you get in, you will bump into someone you came across before. Most strikingly, people tend to remember you for the ‘wrong’ reasons stronger than for the ‘right’ reasons. If someone has kindly offered their time and advice to you but sadly you did not secure a role you wanted with their company, it is still better to stay in touch. I have had a student who reached out to me, penned a lovely and personal message but I wasn’t able to help. Instead, I put him in contact with someone else I know well to help him. Needless to say, finance is a relationship-driven business therefore treating every connection with genuine intent will carry you far.