Newbie consultant: How to approach internal networking more effectively?

networking newbie reaching out for coffee chat with senior people staffing
New answer on Jul 19, 2022
4 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Jul 18, 2022

I joined a Big 4 as a SC a couple of weeks ago after just under 4 years in the insurance industry. As someone with no prior experience in the type of work my team does (i.e. business transformation), how should I approach coffee chats with SMs/Partners to network effectively and make a good impression? 

What are questions to ask (or avoid), as well as general etiquette rules, to ensure I am creating strong relationships, showing credibility, and laying the groundwork to get staffed on future projects that I am interested in?

 

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Ian
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updated an answer on Jul 19, 2022
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there,

Welcome to consulting!

So there are surface level networking and real networking.

Surface Level:

  • Short-term
  • Generally used for recruiting “last-minute”
  • Transactional
  • Effective in sprints/short doses

Real Networking:

  • Works “for you” in the background
  • Relationship-based
  • Reputational-based
  • Mutual respect
  • “Activated” randomly, even years down the road, when they can help with something

You want to do real networking. How?

  1. Perform well on projects
  2. Attend events
  3. Get to know people (and genuinely)
  4. Chat with people by the coffee machine
  5. Keep in touch with people

Now, if you're going to pro-actively reach out to Partners, the same rules apply as for networking coffee chats!

  • Be genuine
  • Be interested
  • Come with questions
  • Ask follow-ups
  • Make sure you understand yourself (your pitch/story)
  • Make sure you understand what they do

Remember, the “Three Whys” still apply here (albeit in a much more condensed/natural way)

https://www.preplounge.com/en/articles/tell-me-about-yourself-interview-question

 

(edited)

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Francesco
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replied on Jul 19, 2022
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.000+) | 1.400+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ InterviewOffers.com) | Ex BCG | 9Y+ Coaching

Hi there,

Congratulations on the offer!

Q: How should I approach coffee chats with SMs/Partners to network effectively and make a good impression? 

Most of what you need is related to general communication tips. You can probably find the majority of what you may need in the old but always worthy “How to Win Friends & Influence People”.

In terms of specific tips for new joiners (not just for communication with partners) this is what I usually recommend:

  1. Take notes during meetings/discussions with your manager – this will help you to remember details and will show you care about them to the team.
  2. Always double-check. The first impression is very important when you join a new company: if you show you are reliable from the beginning, you create a reputation of a reliable person. Double checks should be done on expectations for your job, your Excel analysis, your slides – basically everything.
  3. Define priorities before starting any set of tasks. The majority of the results usually come from a subset of activities – this is true also for your tasks in consulting. You have to identify which they are and prioritize them – the application of the so-called 80-20 rule or Pareto Principle. Alignment on priorities and expectations is particularly important with your manager at the beginning of the project.
  4. Socialize with your colleagues and start to build a network. You should build a good network within the company. A good start is key to develop good relationships long-term. More difficult to do during COVID – but there may still be opportunities for virtual gatherings. Try to take advantage of as many as possible to build connections.
  5. Organize your private life activities. You want to organize your calendar to leave some space for personal activities (sport/ friends/ family). This is not easy but can be managed if you organize well, and long-term will be critical to keep a balance between work and private life. Also, it is better to align with your manager/teammates from the beginning on your core needs, so that there are no surprises later­ on.
  6. Ask for feedback every two-three weeks – this will show you are proactive and willing to learn.
  7. Ask for help when you don't know what to do – better to let know you are in trouble with meeting a deadline than missing the deadline.
  8. Be social and respectful with the support staff – these people are great and influential as well in the company.

All the best for a great start!

Francesco

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Sofia
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replied on Jul 19, 2022
McKinsey San Francisco | Harvard graduate | 5+ years of coaching | DISCOUNTED SESSIONS Sep 2022 | Free 15 min intro call

Hello,

Congratulations on the job and what a great question!

My advice would be - do your best to be proactive and reach out. Coffee chats/networking in a more informal context are key to finding your network and establishing your community at work. There's no strict preparation required for a coffee chat, but I would look up the kind of work the partner does, and what recent projects they have been involved in. If you have similar interests, that's a natural point for the conversation to go! Even if you don't, it can provide a good avenue for questions if you feel like the conversation is dying out a bit. Otherwise, just be polite and professional. Feel free to ask questions about the company, but avoid asking things that HR could answer (e.g., what is the transfer policy?). 

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Clara
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replied on Jul 19, 2022
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

The fact that you are thinking before hand how to approach this conversations already tells me that you are far ahead, and it´s gonna work out pretty well for you. 

This of it as the questions that you had to make your interviewers at the end of each interview, this is the same story but easier (since you have the stamp of approval already). 

At the end of the day, it´s about showing genuine interest about the topic and the job, which you for sure do. 

Hope it helps!

Cheers, 

Clara

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Ian gave the best answer

Ian

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