Networking into real estate private equity jobs is no cake walk. I know from personal experience, having broken into one of the top Manhattan mega funds as an industry outsider. Regardless, networking is the among the most important real estate private equity skills for an outsider candidate to master early on.
Fortunately, there are several critical habits you can form to set yourself apart from the competition. Below are insights I have gleaned through countless hours of networking, and countless more of directly mentoring hundreds of candidates fighting to break into this notoriously exclusive industry.
#1 Contact at least two individuals every week
Networking is entirely a numbers game. I like to think a good candidate has a 10% chance of getting an interview from any particular contact, and a further 10% chance of getting an offer from an interview opportunity. That means any conversation has 1% odds of leading to a full-time job offer. If you have one year ahead of you, then two conversations each week, or ~100 conversations in a year, would give you just enough shots on goal to land a job offer.
#2 Speak to junior professionals first
If you have the option, I’d recommend speaking to junior professionals at a firm before speaking to the senior professionals. The juniors will give you the lay of the land and can tip you off on how the seniors think and what they like to discuss
#3 Start with people you know, and work from there
If you’re at a loss where to start, try reaching out to family, friends, friends of family, friends of friends, alumni, people from your hometown, etc. Cold calling sometimes works, though you may wish to add an in-person touch by meeting professionals at industry events and conferences.
#4 Follow-up after networking events (most people don’t!)
Sometimes investors from real estate private equity funds will come to speak on campus or at local industry events. It may feel like there is a flood of eager candidates looking to speak to the one person you’re interested in. Don’t feel overwhelmed.
The strategy is to get a quick hello, introduce yourself, then get their business card, email, or name. Then contact them a few days later with an introduction and mention “it was nice meeting you at the event.” Most people at these events only flock to the people in the moment and fail to ever follow-up. Having gone to these events myself, I can personally attest that the majority of the interested candidates who speak with me fail to ever email me again.
#5 How to guess an email address
Often you will find a great contact but won’t know their email. This may happen if you meet somebody in person without a business card, or if you see someone on LinkedIn and aren’t able to message them. Most funds follow the email template: “firstname.lastname@example.org.” If not that, there are more advanced tools like Rocket Reach that can help you figure out
#6 Act like an insider, become an insider
Recruiting for real estate private equity jobs is largely a process of identifying people that seem most identical to the people who already work at the fund. They’re looking for people who can think like investors, behave professionally, and demonstrate passion for real estate.
Therefore, your goal in networking is to learn to mirror the behaviors, knowledge, interests, and real estate private equity skills of the junior analysts and associates at the fund. Candidates who appear stiff and unfamiliar haven’t spent the proper time interviewing professionals in the industry to develop the proper idea on how to think and how to act like an insider.