How to network your way into an investment banking job

Did you know that the City of London is only just over one square mile in area? It’s not much and it gives an indication of how small the world of the UK investment banking industry is.

Some might think that networking is just an American thing and that it won’t work in the UK, but they’d be wrong. Finance is a small world where who you know matters. It’s never too early to start networking; here’s what you should be doing to get yourself that graduate job.

1. Travel if you have to – or attend virtual events from around the world

All recruitment events are worth going to, but to avoid wasting your time, it’s important to prioritise. If you have specialised skills, it’s better to go to a recruitment event that is looking for those specific skills even if it means more travel. If your skills aren’t so specialist, don’t limit yourself to networking locally, especially if you don’t live near London.

Attending virtual networking events and fairs is another great way to extend your geographical reach. There’s no limit to the events you can attend from your own home so you are free to attend as many as you have time for.

2. Use any opportunity

If you’re in a place where you have easy access to the people you need to be talking to, such as the London School of Economics, you have a massive advantage.

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If you’re at a recruitment fair or an industry professional has just given a lecture at your university, hang back and ask them an intelligent question on what they’ve been talking about. Once you’ve finished talking, ask for their business card – the worst they can say is no.

3. Be brave

Going into a room full of people can be daunting and it’s tempting to retreat into a corner ‘checking your emails’. However, it really is invaluable to talk to as many people as possible and there are ways to make your life easier. Some tips include:

  • Always look for a crowd with an odd number of people. At noisy events, it’s very difficult to hold a three-way conversation so someone will automatically gravitate towards you.
  • Stand in front of a circle of people who are talking. Listen to them intently, and as soon as you get a chance, put your hand out (when it is safe to shake hands once social distancing restrictions have been lifted) and introduce yourself. People will often start asking you questions as opposed to the other way around.

At virtual events, take the opportunity to join one-to-one chats with recruiters if these are offered. It’s best to turn your camera on when meeting people virtually so that you have more of a ‘face-to-face’ experience and they are likely to remember you better. When watching webinars, interact with the panellists by typing in comments or questions for them to answer.