3rd Degree to 1st: 3 Secrets to Effective Networking for Consulting


Recruiting season is a busy time for everyone. Resume version files continue to populate on your computer, and the stack of business cards on your desk only gets higher. We know one recruiter from Deloitte who attended 56 recruiting events in 60 days! Some of you wake up thinking how to answer fit questions such as “Why X firm” or what firm culture excites you the most (others of us wake up thinking about breakfast). Your drivers are important, but what’s the best way to answer these questions? Talking to actual people at the firm!

Now how does this actually happen? How do you go from a business card or an email / LinkedIn profile to actually get a conversation on the phone? Simple — you ask! While many who ask receive, it’s important to use this time wisely. Remember that all interactions with the someone at the firm — even those outside of a formal setting like interviews and career fairs — will influence your reputation inside the firm. You can maximize the value of this opportunity through the following 3 rules. Well, actually, much like Captain Barbosa in Pirates of the Caribbean, we prefer to think of them as guidelines:

  1. Talk to the right person. You may have heard do your homework before, but what do you actually need to research? You need to understand the background and position of the individual you want to talk to. Do your best to tailor your questions to the experience of the individual you are talking to. If someone is more junior (titles like Analyst or Consultant) then ask questions related to transitioning from university and strategies they’ve employed to grow/mold their career. For most senior folks, pick their brain related to strategy and how they think. At the Partner level, responsibilities shift to selling work for the firm so this is a prime opportunity to mention your sales experience and be personable and interesting, as your ability to build relationships will be key to your success. Above all, make sure you are talking to the right person inside the firm. Who is the right person? Someone in your target office, either at the level you would enter in at or 1-2 years ahead.

 

  1. Remember, people love to talk about themselves. At the end of the day, people love talking about themselves. When you ask open-ended questions regarding someone’s experience instead of asking a generic question they’ve heard 100 times before, all of a sudden you’ve made the conversation more enjoyable for them, and they’ll thank (and remember) you for it. This is not the time to pat yourself on the back and zone out. The worst thing you can do after asking a good question is immediately follow up with another question without acknowledging their reply. Do your best to intertwine their reply into other conversation topics. Listen to understand, not just to respond.

 

  1. Do your homework. Often you can find yourself asking others (or us!) for the “best” questions to ask. The best questions are ones that are specific enough to show that you did some preliminary research but open-ended enough to be applicable to a variety of people. They’re also questions you don’t already know the answer to! What burning questions do you have about working at Bain Atlanta or Deloitte S&O Chicago? This is your chance to ask! Don’t be that guy who asks a question he already knows the answer to, just to sound impressive. We can promise you this: you won’t sound impressive, and definitely won’t help yourself gain any further clarity about a consultant’s work or specific firm culture.

Have specific questions about the networking process? Email us; we’d love to help! Tired of wasting time and ready to take the next step in your career? Then Networking for Consulting – our insanely popular 38 lesson online video course – is for you. Check it out here!

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