in your situation it would be very useful to have a referral from an alumnus of either the top 2 strategy firm who moved to MBB or of your universities (potentially more challenging since it is not a target school). The most powerful way to counterbalance any weak point in your CV (as a non-target school) is indeed to find a good referral.
To do so, I would suggest going through the following three-step approach:
1. Identify who are the people that can more easily help you
2. Write them a customized email
3. Have a call with the consultant, and indirectly ask for a referral
As general tips:
- Don’t use LinkedIn for your communication – emails work a lot better. There are several tools nowadays that allow to find very quickly the email of basically anyone. You should target at least 30% conversion for your messages – if you are not achieving that there is space for improvement in your message.
- When you write to your target connections, your goal should not be to ask questions, rather to organize a call. Then in the call you should ask the right questions to create a link with them.
- Whatever questions you ask during the call, you should have a closing question to ask (indirectly) for the referral. Don’t leave that to chances.
You should prepare three main things before the call:
- Your own pitch, highlighting who you are in 3-4 key sentences. Previous /experience with relevant brands/companies would be great to show you are qualified
- 3-4 questions, focused on the personal experiences of the person (and not on the company only). Ideally you should try to learn as much as possible about the contact before. You can also discover relevant information with the first questions. Your goal here is to have a conversation and not a Q&A session.
- Closing question for referral. You should ask (in an indirect way to avoid to be too pushy) a referral at the end of the call. If you correctly introduce yourself, do a good job with the questions before and have something in common (eg former alumni, common connections…), you can increase by a relevant amount the likelihood of a referral. If you don’t ask, they may not volunteer to offer one.
Before the call, it would be useful to review your CV and Cover, to be sure they are updated and structured properly for your MBB application, so that you can forward them without delays if needed.
If you are interested to know more about the exact steps to maximize conversion for referrals, please feel free to PM me.