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hedge fund networking

If you’re looking to break into the exciting world of hedge funds and alternative investing, but you’re not sure where to start, here is a great jumping off point: check out a conference!  Here are a few tips to make your conference experience both enjoyable and worth your time and money.

To choose which conference you go to, think about the following:

  • How much can you afford to spend?  Take into account the sometimes-outrageous conference fee plus travel costs.  Keep in mind you don’t have to stay at the hotel the conference is held in if it’s not in your budget.  Since most conferences are held in large cities, you can generally find a less expensive place to stay.
  • Is there anything in particular you’d like to learn about?  Search for a conference that interests you, or has at least one panel or speaker session that really intrigues you.
  • Is there anyone in the hedge fund world you’d like to meet?  If they’re a bigwig at one of the larger funds, there’s a good chance they’re speaking at a conference in the next year or so.
  • Is there a firm you want to work for but can’t get your foot in the door?  Take a look at both who’s speaking at the conference and who’s sponsoring the conference.

Once you’ve signed up for a conference, contact the conference organizer and let them know your situation, i.e. if you’re a student, recent graduate, or otherwise unemployed.  Ask if there are any invite-only events going on, and ask for an invite.  Many times, various firms or vendors will sponsor invite-only happy hours or dinners, and you can meet a great variety of people at these events.  They’re also generally more fun than the conference itself.

At the conference, dress appropriately.  Feel free to contact the conference organizer and ask about the dress code.  If in doubt, wear a well-fitting suit.  Make sure you look professional without your suit jacket so you can remove it at the conference if you look overdressed.

Also, be sure to check out the vendors.  You may meet one you’d like to work for, or you may meet someone that will help you later on in your career.  Treat everyone you meet as if they’re just as important as the CEO of the hedge fund you’re dying to work for.

Last important tip: watch your alcohol consumption at the conference, at any happy hour or dinner, and at the conference hotel.  If you’re new to this world, alcohol and finance go together like bread and butter.  Set a limit and stick to it.  If you don’t think you can do that, drink soda so it looks as if you’re drinking a mixed drink.  As fun as it can be boozing with important people, you don’t want to be remembered as the kid who yakked on the plant at the fancy restaurant.

Check out the following for upcoming conferences:

Enjoy your conference (but not too much)!

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There are many hedge fund-related organizations to join and they represent great networking opportunities – even as a student. The Hedge Fund Association, or HFA, is one such group to join if you’re looking for hedge fund networking opportunities.  The HFA is a non-profit, international trade and lobbying group “devoted to advancing transparency, development and trust in alternative investments.” The HFA is decidedly nonpartisan, which separates it from a few similar hedge fund associations.

In order to join HFA, one must be in one of the following membership groups:

  • hedge fund managers
  • fund of funds managers
  • hedge fund professionals
  • investors
  • service providers
  • students

Student membership has some good benefits, including:

  • discounts to hedge fund conferences and other important networking events
  • discounts to various financial publications
  • access to other HFA members
  • access to white papers and other exciting hedge fund research
  • 40% discount on Wiley Global Finance’s new book by Paul Darbyshire and David Hampton, Hedge Fund Modeling and Analysis using Excel and VBA

Arguably, the most important of these benefits is the conference and event discount.  Conferences and other events are valuable sources of knowledge and should be attended by students for the networking opportunities.  The most difficult part of attending events for many students is affording the generally high conference fees.

For example, the cost of Financial Research Associates, LLC’s two-day Hedge Fund Investment & Operations Boot Camp is $1,695, not including travel costs, a hotel room, and meals.  As an HFA member, you can receive a 15% discount off the conference fee.

Networking Advice for Students

Once you make arrangements to attend a conference or other networking event, make the most of it.  Dress appropriately: wear properly-fitting business attire.  Introduce yourself to everyone, from people you want to work for to vendors and  people you bump into grabbing coffee.  Let them know you’re a student interested in breaking into the hedge fund world.  If you wind up in a decent conversation, ask for contact information and if you may contact them in the future.  Send them a short email after the conference reminding them of who you are and thanking them for their contact information.  Add them on LinkedIn.  You never know who might be helpful to you in your future job search!

To join the HFA, students must be enrolled in a course relevant to hedge funds or the hedge fund industry.  Annual membership for one student is just $100.

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Networking for a Hedge Fund Job

June 29, 2009

If there was ever an industry where “who you know” matters as much as what you know, hedge funds would be it. In addition to a passion and track record in investing and a stellar resume, you’ll need a solid network of contacts to uncover that elusive hedge fund job. Start with your personal contacts, […]

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