By Laura Hoffmann, ZGAS IC of Editor-in Chief
On Wednesday, February 19, the Zicklin Graduate Accounting Society (ZGAS) co-hosted Jaymin J. Patel with the Zicklin Graduate Career Management Center in an event titled “Networking Like a Rockstar.” The goal of the event was to show students how to stand out in the crowd at networking events, by attaining what Patel called “Rockstar” status.
At the start of the event, Mr. Patel introduced himself, giving those in attendance a brief view into his life and what inspired him to write The MBA Guide to Networking like a Rockstar. He is a full-time author, public speaker, and career coach. While attending Carnegie Mellon as an MBA student at age 23, he found that recruiters were not talking to him at campus recruiting events because he lacked experience. By contrast, classmates of his that were successful with recruiters, tended to have seven to ten years of working experience. Bucking the trend, Patel managed to work with recruiters to attain an internship in his desired field: management. His classmates were shocked and intrigued as to how he approached networking and the recruiting process, which eventually became the basis of his book. This book was further enriched by his experiences as a recruiter and associate for Booz & Company.
Mr. Patel discussed the following key ideas in his presentation: the definition of networking, the importance of networking, how to articulate one’s story, the relationship hierarchy, the “Half Moon Effect”, the deal-breaker, and Rockstar attributes. Patel emphasized that, using his methodology, students could achieve Rockstar status. According to Mr. Patel, the recruiting process comes down to four words: “yes,” “no,” “maybe,” and “Rockstar”. A Rockstar prospect will get interviews and offers, while the “yes” and “maybe” candidates will fall sharply behind. Rockstars will apply the right strategies in attaining their dream jobs. First, they will focus on the purpose of their job searches and seek jobs that are the right fit; this requires them to recognize and identify what they want to do with their lives. Secondly, Rockstars define strategies which help them clearly identify paths towards achieving their goals. Finally, Rockstars develop distinctive skill sets which are built by maintaining confidence and understanding the road to success.
Networking consists of “building a personal relationship with influential individuals to positively impact career development.” Although Patel mentioned that such “influential individuals” tended to be recruiters, he emphasized that they could potentially be anyone. He then proceeded to discuss a networking experience of his own on an airplane: he was sitting next to an MBA student from the University of Pittsburgh, and the student asked Patel the question we all practice for, “Tell me about yourself.” Patel was working for Booz & Company, but was also writing The MBA Guide. Since he aspired to fully dedicate himself to writing, speaking, and career coaching, he focused on those aspects when answering. The student liked Patel’s pitch, and helped book him to speak at his school’s career center, ultimately kick-starting Patel’s speaking/coaching career. This experience demonstrates the power of a networking opportunity.
Networking is important because it makes the difference between landing a normal versus dream job. It helps one to understand the culture and people in an organization to determine if the company is a true fit. Networking spurs relationships, so people from the organization whom students meet can become their champions, and show them the ropes. Further, it helps to build one’s reputation among recruiters, which is important because recruiters communicate with each other.
In networking, there is a relationship hierarchy which progresses from awareness, to consideration, to acknowledgement and, lastly, to support. Each step represents the level of personal connection between the student and recruiter, building over time. To begin ascending to the Support Level, students must show some connection to the recruiter, making the relationship personal. The only way this can be done is to stand out from the crowd by meeting with the recruiter at an event, and then follow up with an e-mail, requesting one-on-one time with the recruiter (even for only 20 minutes). In making the relationship personal, Patel recommends students find some initial connection with the recruiter, such as an interest in sports.
Articulating one’s story begins with three simple words: “Hi I’m [insert name],” and a firm handshake. The following steps in the process involve describing: who you are, what you’ve done, where you are going, and why you deserve it (not necessarily in that order). Patel reminded the audience that most recruiters know what candidates have done from their resumes, so students should not focus too much on that aspect. Patel also stated that the related 30-second elevator pitch has no practical use, because students must have serious confidence to implement it. He does believe, however, that students should practice it. Patel then asked the audience to articulate their stories to neighbors with whom they were unacquainted, and rate them according to the four-word scale: “yes”, “no”, “maybe”, or “Rockstar”. One of the audience members rated Rockstar joined Patel on the stage and told her story. His advice to her and other students, was not to tell their stories in a strictly linear fashion.
The Half-Moon Effect or "Circle of Death”, as dubbed by Mr. Patel, is the circle of students surrounding a recruiter. Such a circle is hard to get into, but also hard to escape. When entering the circle, Patel recommended coming within earshot of the conversation, waiting for a pause, and then introducing oneself. He warned not to take the spotlight or be an interrupter in the circle. Students should ask one to two questions, but not more than three. The best method is to ask one question and then, based on the recruiter’s answer, ask another one to two questions. Student collaboration within the circle is also recommended. When students want to leave the circle, they should wait for a pause, extend their hand, thank the recruiter, and ask if they can follow up. Within and just outside the circle, there are three types of people: recent alumni or junior employees, seasoned employees (such as partners) knowledgeable about the industry, and human resources recruiting staff knowledgeable about things such as company culture.
The deal breaker in the recruiting process is following up with a note or e-mail. Some tips Mr. Patel offers are: do not send the letter at a very late or early hour, always follow up within 24 hours, make sure the introduction and/or closing are formal, avoid grammar and spelling mistakes, refer to the conversation you had with the recruiter, don’t sound as if you are already qualified for the position, avoid long sentences, and don’t be too conversational, confusing, or inarticulate.
The attributes of a Rockstar are: leadership experience, experience with analytics and modeling, innovative thinking, experience communicating with a large range of audiences, possession of educational benchmarks (such as top scores), excelling in a rigorous institution with difficult coursework, involvement and recognition in programs and activities, good work history and logical career progression, and work experience variety. Patel concluded his presentation at Baruch with his key to networking: “Be Authentic!”
For students interested in further information, please visit Jaymin J.Patel’s website at www.MBARockstar.com. His contact information is Jaymin@MBARockstar.com.
Hello ZGAS Members,