Yesterday a trader asked me to share his email address and suggest to some traders I know to reach out to him.
I declined. I didn’t know this trader. I didn’t know if this trader would add value to the trading of my friends. I couldn’t recommend him to my friends.
The trader shot back a disappointed email, which bothered me for a few hours. I don’t like disappointing people. I loved that this trader was working to expand his trading network. I had done a poor job communicating how to do so with this trader and perhaps with the trading community.
And it is essential to work daily to expand your trading network. From my seat, many independent traders lack a sufficient trading network and an effective daily process to grow one.
One of my favorite books to read to my children was The Giving Tree. This is a story about a boy who takes and take and takes from a tree, until the tree has nothing left to give. This is not a heathy relationship. Senior traders often view developing traders as that boy, just attempting to take and take from them. Right or wrong in this thinking the best way to gain their attention, and thus learn from them, is to give.
Bella how can I give to a Senior Trader? They are the ones making money. I need to become like them. I need to learn to do what they are doing. What value can I add to their trading? From my seat, based on years of observation, the answer is: quite a lot.
For example, what if there is a Senior Trader from whom you wish to learn. Perhaps they share some of their best trades on Twitter or YouTube. Or perhaps they are at your trading firm and you see some of their bigger trades. And you can deconstruct the types of stocks and trades they like best. That doesn’t mean you can trade them like the Senior Trader. But it could mean you can spot the next trading opportunities, like their biggest trades, and share them with them. Perhaps they didn’t see that next big trading opportunity, save for your share. Now you have added value.
Let me offer an example from our firm on how a developing trader added value to a Senior Trader. This Senior Intern wanted to make the trading team of this Senior Trader. This is the best team at the firm, where all but one trader is consistently profitable. Getting on a team like this could make your trading career. The Senior Intern noticed a huge trading opportunity for the team. He couldn’t yet trade it effectively. But he found a way to help significantly.
That Senior Intern deconstructed the trading opportunity and then pulled the charts of similar trading opportunities like it for the team. Now the team could see how similar opportunities traded in the past. They gained more edge by understanding the history of these trading opportunities. The Senior Intern added value. Would you be surprised to learn this Senior Intern is now a member of that trading team?
Let me offer another example of how a Junior Trader expanded his trading network to jump start his career. Our firm has been working on expanding our Crypto trading. One Junior Trader has developed an impressive rolodex of contacts by following and reaching out to the best players in the space. One star Senior Trader took notice of this. And asked for this Junior Trader to start sharing trading ideas with him. Now that Junior Trader sits on the team of this star Senior Trader and has a joint account for Crypto opportunities with him. This Junior Trader showed the value he could add and that has led to an amazing opportunity for him at SMB.
I could go on and on and on with examples like this at our firm. But you get the point.
Instead of thinking how you can take from a Senior Trader to help your trading career or wrongly that you cannot add value until you are crushing markets, think creatively of how you can add value to that Senior Trader. That is the most effective way to build your trading network.
Mike Bellafiore is the Co-Founder of SMB Capital, a proprietary trading desk, and SMB Training, which provides trading education in stocks, options, and futures. Bella is the author of One Good Trade and The PlayBook. He welcomes your trading questions at [email protected].