Building Contacts At Schools Without Networking Events

by Jaineel Aga

This chapter is a free excerpt from The Best Book on Getting Consulting Jobs In India.

For an Indian user without exposure to networking events on campus, the best way to make contact is to use social media. Take Facebook and LinkedIn as examples. LinkedIn itself has at least 3 or 4 sites or groups dedicated to consulting, whether they're groups dedicated to McKinsey or Bain or BCG, or how to get into consulting, or consulting networks. When you have access to great social media, make full use of it by joining these groups. Invest a little money in getting the type of account where you can reach out directly to someone at Parthenon or BCG or Bain.

You should request time for a networking session. Don't explicitly say "networking session," but rather you ask for 10 minutes of his or her time to show an interest in a particular company.

Nobody in consulting, no matter how busy he or she is, will ever refuse you communication by email or over the phone if it's a genuine request to understand more about the company or the people there. Every consultant in the company has come up through the same channels, and they know exactly how the system works.

I normally network with and talk to at least 5 or 6 students a month, whether it's by phone or email. In a way ,it's returning the favor that someone along the way did for me. It's an extremely common mindset among consultants, and students in India as well as in the United States shouldn't be shy about leveraging that. However, having said that, what works really well is networking through your own channels and contacts. Instead of cold calling someone, reach out through a common friend or common channel. A tool like LinkedIn is a great way to figure out what sort of connection you might have to these people.

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For an Indian user without exposure to networking events on campus, the best way to make contact is to use social media. Take Facebook and LinkedIn as examples. LinkedIn itself has at least 3 or 4 sites or groups dedicated to consulting, whether they're groups dedicated to McKinsey or Bain or BCG, or how to get into consulting, or consulting networks. When you have access to great social media, make full use of it by joining these groups. Invest a little money in getting the type of account where you can reach out directly to someone at Parthenon or BCG or Bain.

You should request time for a networking session. Don't explicitly say "networking session," but rather you ask for 10 minutes of his or her time to show an interest in a particular company.

Nobody in consulting, no matter how busy he or she is, will ever refuse you communication by email or over the phone if it's a genuine request to understand more about the company or the people there. Every consultant in the company has come up through the same channels, and they know exactly how the system works.

I normally network with and talk to at least 5 or 6 students a month, whether it's by phone or email. In a way ,it's returning the favor that someone along the way did for me. It's an extremely common mindset among consultants, and students in India as well as in the United States shouldn't be shy about leveraging that. However, having said that, what works really well is networking through your own channels and contacts. Instead of cold calling someone, reach out through a common friend or common channel. A tool like LinkedIn is a great way to figure out what sort of connection you might have to these people.

You might be connected through a brother or a professor, or many other channels which could actually lead you to a person at a consulting firm. Request that your common contact get you 10 minutes with them to talk. While my major Parthenon networking event was on-campus, I must emphasize that I had networked rigorously, aggressively, throughout the time I was at the Duke program.

For example, I have two cousins in the U.S., one of whom went to Columbia undergrad and Yale MBA and has a lot of friends who are consultants or ex-consultants. You'd be surprised by the number of meetings I created through that one contact. I had a chance to speak to an engagement manager at McKinsey, a partner at Navigant, a partner at Deloitte, a partner at ENY, through one effective person.

If you're aware of the kind of people your friends, your family, and your circle knows, there's a high possibility that you'll y know someone at one of these firms through a common link. Again, you have to be intelligent in figuring out who the most effective person would be in reaching out to these contacts. For example, I reached out to my cousin, who's currently a strategy consultant at Deloitte, but had previously worked at consulting firms like Bearing Point and Price Waterhouse Coopers. If I had to apply for a finance job in the future, I would talk to my other cousin, who works in Manhattan.  Make sure that you're reaching out to the most effective and right people while networking.
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