Friday, September 19, 2014

Getting to the Next Level in Trading Through Professional Networking

I'm looking forward to being part of an excellent lineup October 3-5th in Las Vegas, when Traders4ACause holds their annual event.  It's a great idea:  proceeds from the event go to charitable causes.  So it's traders sharing ideas with other traders and also giving back to worthy organizations.

Working in the hedge fund haven of Greenwich and living in suburban Connecticut, I've grown to appreciate the value of professional networking.  Networking is always useful for job hunts, of course, but a lot of networking occurs simply out of the desire for enrichment.  By meeting other traders, hearing their ideas about markets, and learning about what they do, you expose yourself to a variety of inputs that you'd otherwise never encounter.

When I first started working at hedge funds, I thought that portfolio managers would be so secretive with their ideas that they'd never share with others.  The exact opposite is true:  money managers realize that, if they share their ideas with the right people, they'll wind up with many more ideas than they came with.  A huge part of sustaining creativity is generating fresh inputs.  By sharing with others--at conferences and at after work events-- traders can come away with many fresh inputs and lay the groundwork for creative idea generation.  One of the things I like about the Traders4ACause group is that their causes are both charitable ones and ones of sharing with colleagues:  you give and you receive.

The professional networking that takes place at trader dinners is quite different from the networking of social media.  Social media is extremely broad, but typically not deep.  It's a great way of touching base with people, but not such a great way to debate ideas, brainstorm industry trends, and share best practices.  There's something about meeting people in person that cements relationships and leads to a depth of sharing that would never occur via email or chat.  I have known many close professional collaborations that have begun through dinner meetings.

Trading can be challenging and rewarding, but it can also be isolating--especially for independent traders managing their own capital.  One of the real benefits of joining a trading firm is the opportunity to collaborate and learn from others, even as you teach them what you know.  The independent trader lacks that affiliation.  Without a continual stream of fresh observations and ideas, the isolated trader finds it much harder to keep up with changing markets than the networked trader.  The key is networking with the right people.

In coming weeks, I will be organizing a trader networking event in the greater New York City area, where the focus will be on sharing ideas and building collegial relationships.  I will share my own research, and each participant will agree to share one or more ideas with the group.  There will be no fee for the gathering: the price of admission is bringing a worthwhile idea to share.  In a future post, I will provide details.  The goal is to come away with many more valuable ideas than you brought--and to come away with professional relationships that can last well beyond the dinner meeting.

If you have suggestions regarding a networking event, please feel free to offer those via comment to this post.  I believe it will be a great way to leverage your talents and keep up with changing markets--and should be a lot of fun!

Further Reading:  Core Ideas of Trading Psychology