Networking Event Tips
Below is a guest post by Theo O'Brien of Private Equity Blogger.com:
If you're looking to enter the hedge fund industry either working directly for a firm or as a service provider to one, networking events and conferences are a great way to get your foot in the door. On September 16th, hedge fund professionals will be meeting at the W Hotel in Chicago for a few short speeches and a few hours of networking (see Hedge Fund Premium.com for details). Whether you are attending these events or not, this article will give you some advice on attending networking events and investment conferences.
Many professionals fail to take advantage of these opportunities, even those who attend. Here are 5 tips that should prepare you for attending a networking event or conference:
- Don't Be Shy: it's a good start to attend a hedge fund event but you do not gain anything if you do not talk to other attendees, speakers and sponsors. The event is only valuable if you make it valuable, so network and socialize with those around you.
- Don't Scare People Off: Another mistake is to be too forward when approaching managers or service providers, especially those looking to land a job in the hedge fund industry. Instead of sharing insights and thoughts on the industry, many young professionals will focus entirely on their own needs (a job) and ignore those managers or executives that are not currently hiring. This is the wrong mentality. Assuming you have been following the industry and paid good attention to the speaker, you will have a good starting point for initiating a conversation. Ask questions when appropriate and listen when the other person is speaking. If you are looking for a job, don't start a conversation with that problem. Those who work in the industry are not paying to hear someone complain about not working in private equity. But you should mention it if the timing is appropriate.
- Get Your Name Out There: If you cannot find a hiring firm or no firms are interested in your product or service, don't despair, get your name out there. It may just be an inconvenient moment or the person you are talking with is not the right person at the firm; for example, if you are marketing your auditing service to a principle in charge of evaluating deals, he may not be interested. Give him your business card regardless, in a quarter the firm may be looking for a new auditor and still have your card. Even if you do not directly land a client through this method, it boosts your firm or your own name recognition. If you're looking for a job (from analyst to executives) give your card out, when the firm is eventually hiring they will probably have your name on file.
- Prepare an Elevator Pitch: It may not sound great, but you are a product that needs to be sold. Therefore you need to have a great elevator pitch that comes out effortlessly. Whether you are looking to network, marketing to investors or job seeking, a solid elevator pitch is necessary. Be concise and include only essential information. To learn more about crafting a great elevator pitch see these articles, Developing an Elevator Pitch and Elevator Pitch Essentials (also the title of a helpful book on the subject).
- Look and Act like a Professional: Even though you are not at work when you're attending an event or conference, act like you are. You are meeting potential clients and partners, so you essentially are working. Wear a suit and if it's hot, as many crowded events are, at least make the initial effort and take off your coat once you sit down. So, look your best (haircut, shave and a suit) or no one will take you seriously. It's better to be overdressed than underdressed. Remember your manners, especially if it is catered event and use language that you would be comfortable using in the office.