Are Columbia Business School Students Having Trouble Playing Nice With Classmates, “Smothering” Bankers?By Bess Levin
According to this email, yes. Seems that the future business leaders of the world are just so excited to show potential employers what they’ve got that they 1) get up into recruiters’ asses more than is socially acceptable and 2) cockblock their friends from doing ths same. The lack of finesse is apparently embarrassing the school and has resulted in a list of rules to live by during networking events, with heavy emphasis on Circle Etiquette.
Dear 1st years –
It has come to our attention that some of you have already managed to become notorious for their willingness to elbow their peers out of the circle around senior bankers and virtually attack the bankers with questions, thus preventing other students from networking and participating in the conversation. This is never a good strategy and acting in a socially undesirable way runs a strong risk of branding you as undesirable not just to your classmates but also to recruiters. Once you feel that you have asked a couple of questions, and perhaps received a business card, do not monopolize the banker’s time by standing around awkwardly or asking additional questions. Let your classmates play as well. Furthermore, such behavior shows that you are aggressive and non-collegial, and therefore not a pleasant person to work 100-hour weeks with.
Bankers are very observant people. Moreover, it is much easier to remember somebody with a bad impression than with a good impression – do not smother the bankers with too many questions.
§ If you see a classmate standing behind you, step aside and let them in the circle around the banker – it shows team work
§ Ask a couple of questions and then move on or remain silent and let your classmates interact as well
§ If there are 6-7 students around 1 banker, you do not want to ask more than one or two questions
§ If there are 2-3 students you can ask a few more questions if you feel you are bonding well, but always be considerate toward your classmates – use your best judgment
§ If you feel you have spend a good 15-20 minutes with one banker, it is ok to excuse yourself politely and ask for a business card
§ If the banker has run out of business cards and you have one, offer to share with your classmates
§ Remember that these events are also meant to screen for those who can one day win business from clients – treat the recruiters the way you would treat a multi-billion dollar client
§ Do not monopolize recruiter’s time – especially the senior bankers. Talk to the junior bankers as well – they often are take the first stab at drafting invite only lists
§ Do not be fake and superficial in your attempt to shine – bankers interact with tens of people on a daily basis and can easily spot fake from genuine behavior
§ Do not overwhelm bankers with questions when they are taking a small break (i.e. chewing food) – remember they are also human beings and have had a very long day at work.
§ Do not get drunk or gobble down food in front of bankers no matter how hungry and tired you are
§ Do not be intimidated to let your personality shine – being stuck-up is never a good strategy – be pleasant, be fun, smile, and stay professional
Your aim at these sessions is not to compete with your classmates, but to impress the bankers. Be smart about it – this is not rocket science!
Use your social intelligence and best judgment. Be a team player. Be considerate to your peers. This will help not only you, but also the school, look professional and desirable.
Thank you and good luck.