Two months remain until your resume will be picked-up from a stack, scanned for 10 seconds, and labeled as either a “Yes” or a “No” for consulting interviews. In those fleeting moments, a single 8”x11” sheet of paper will represent your life’s accomplishments to-date and your charming personality. That is, unless your networking efforts have placed you on a VIP list, in which case the reviewer will smile when they read your name, glance over the well-known story of your good deeds and quickly scribble “Yes” without a second thought.
That’s the goal: for your interview selection to be a simple matter of procedure, an outcome decided weeks prior during your interactions with the consulting recruiting team. But how to stand out among your peers? How can you ensure that the people you networked with become your champions throughout the selection process?
Here are a few tips for effective networking:
Be present, patient and persistent at formal networking events
For starters, you must attend all formal networking opportunities hosted by your target firm, and you must be actively present throughout each event. You can be sure that the firm maintains an Excel tracker of each candidate. The last thing you want is for “No show” or “Quiet” to be listed next to your name. Arrive 10 minutes early, stay until there are only a handful of recruits remaining, and never, ever leave an event without having had a meaningful conversation with at least 3 consultants. It’s simple advice, but you’d be amazed how many recruits bail from events prematurely.
Remember that there are internal politics at play in the recruiting process for every firm. Junior consultants usually develop real relationships with recruits and have favorites that they champion every chance they get. Partners and Project Leads tend to drop opinion bombs on recruiting teams based on minimal exposure to these candidates but years of experience in recruiting. When the two groups disagree, expect a verbal brawl. This matters for you because it means you have to woo both sides of the divide. In short, make sure you have conversations with both senior and junior consultants in order to optimize your chances of gaining support.
Your story, on repeat
Another effective tactic is to ensure that you tell a consistent story to each consultant you speak with. Whether it’s a coffee chat or an information session, hammer home the three interesting facts that highlight what you’ve accomplished, what you’re currently doing, and what you want to do in consulting at that particular firm. If the consultants don’t remember your name, you at least want them to remember “the woman who teaches a yoga class and has unique marketing experience” or “the guy with the red tie who worked in France and is interested in supply chain analytics”.
Off the record
One of the best ways to sell your brand is to meet with consultants apart from the formal networking sessions. Keep in mind that more senior consultants may have family obligations on nights and weekends, so they will be more receptive to emails or phone calls rather than face-to-face meetings. For the younger recruiters, don’t shy away from asking them to hop on a phone call or meet for coffee, particularly if you’ve truly hit it off with them at an event. Just be sure that A) you have some specific topics you’d like to learn about and B) you’re prepared for a probing conversation about your skills and ambitions. Be aware that such a conversation will likely solidify that person’s view of you whether the chat goes well or not.
For more free consulting recruiting advice, be sure to peruse our blog. If you’re serious about acing your case and receiving holistic, personalized coaching prior to interview season, sign-up for one of our Consulting Interview Coach sessions!