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How To Kiss Awkward Small Talk Goodbye!

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Each of my post tells one story, outlines the principle behind it and then reflects on what YOU should do to skyrocket your finance career. All of that in less than two minutes! If you like that spirit, head here and sign up to get a story and actual examples on how to skyrocket your finance career delivered straight to your inbox twice a month.

The Story

Michael is getting nervous. He’s about to meet the Managing Director of his dream Bulge Bracket bank for coffee and he is dreading it. In fact, he feels like he is cursed.

Over the last three months he has had fifteen one-on-one informational interviews and they all went the same way – after 30 minutes of small talk he left feeling that the guy liked him. The trouble is, a few days later when he tried to follow-up and be more direct about his interest in the firm, they all said the same thing:

“Sorry but I can’t do anything for you at the moment, we don’t have any positions that match your profile.”

That’s not even the worst part. Michael has been attending tons of networking events – sitting through endless presentations and then making awkward small talk with people who are as nervous as he is. We all know how difficult those conversations are! He tried to follow up but hardly anyone responded and it all felt so unnatural that after a while he stopped trying altogether.

The Principle

Networking is like dating and you have to chose between two strategies:

Option A: Go to 100 dates and only talk about the weather and superficial work things.

Option B: Have 100 genuine conversations where you share things about you and your REAL opinions.

If your goal is to get married, Option B is the way to go because even though 95 potential partners will think you’re not their type, FIVE will want to know more. By POLARIZING them from the start, you found out which dates could be attracted to you and you can spend time deepening the connection with them instead of just running around and trying to be nice to everyone.

Networking and landing a job requires exactly the same reasoning. Having a network of 1000 people who kind of like you is not as powerful as a network of 50 who would go to bat for you.

How to Skyrocket YOUR Finance Career

It’s time to polarize people when you network.

Sending emails to potential contacts? Stop trying to get the highest response rate as possible. Instead focus on getting responses from people who could be a great fit. That means writing emails most people  would react to by saying “Well, that’s not something I am interested in”.

Going to networking events? Forget about small talk and polarize from the start with a strong line like “That was a boring conference, right?” See how people react and select the high potential ones. Then pay huge amounts of attention to them, ask about their challenges and find a way to help.

Sending Christmas Cards? Don’t expect your 500 generic cards to do anything for you. Instead, try sending 15 handwritten and 100% customized cards to your top contacts. Or even better, buy 7 copies of your favorite book and send them out with a handwritten note inside explaining why it’s your favorite book.

Stop wasting your time trying to get people to like you. Instead invest that time to reach more people and identify those who click with you and see value in what you do.

But before you do, head here and sign up to get a story and actual examples on how to skyrocket your finance career delivered straight to your inbox twice a month.

About Nicolas

Since 2011, I’ve worked with 100+ Investment Banking and Corporate Finance professionals to help them land their dream job. Investment Banking gigs at Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Lazard. Corporate finance jobs at Google, Paypal and much more. From Analyst to Managing Directors, I’ve coached my clients on their networking technique and their LinkedIn profiles; I edited their resumes and cover letters, and grilled them during intensive interview preparation sessions. You may have originally discovered me through my work as an Associate Editor at Mergers & Inquisitions where I’ve been writing for over 200,000 readers. I also give speeches on recruiting and career performance in front of large audiences including Fortune 1000 CEOs, executives and… ambassadors! In 2014, given the amazing results we achieved with my clients I decided to quit my financial analyst job, work full time on coaching and I launched 300 Finance Gurus to dig even deeper into the art of finance recruiting. I am now going to grill 300 Managing Directors, CFOs, VPs, Associates and Analysts as well as headhunters and other coaches to give you the best of the best so you can skyrocket your finance career.