Finance consultants depend on a robust network of professional contacts to help them consistently find accounting and finance jobs. When you make a career out of project-based employment, constant networking becomes one of the most effective ways to boost long-term prospects. Your relationships with industry professionals can open doors to opportunities where you least expect them.
It's easy to fall into traps while attempting to network, however. Doing it right requires a certain amount of dedication and perseverance. Here are three mistakes consultants should avoid when building their networks:
1. Not committing to the process
Networking tools are everywhere, but these days it seems like most of them exist online. LinkedIn, Twitter and other resources have made it possible for like-minded people to connect with ease. However, be careful not to spread yourself too thin on these platforms. Even something as simple as maintaining a LinkedIn account requires commitment. Your profile may give you access to a list of connections, but it won't automatically present job opportunities to you. You have to maintain an active web presence before your profile actually generates interest from hiring managers.
It's also important to think critically about where you dedicate your networking efforts online. The Internet gives you no shortage of options to choose from, but that doesn't mean you have to sign up for all of them. Be honest with yourself about how much time you can realistically dedicate to an online resource before signing up. Another way to maximize your efforts is to focus on the tools that offer the most value.
2. Pushing too hard
Networking as a finance consultant doesn't always have to be about landing a job. In fact, it shouldn’t be. If you reach out to contacts only when you need help, you'll weaken your ties.
Consider the way hiring managers approach the process. A Robert Half Management Resources survey revealed that while 60 percent of chief financial officers network with the purpose of growing their own businesses, a good 20 percent also appreciate networking for the ability to keep up with industry news and trends.
Don't go overboard in pushing your services and qualifications, and generously share news and expertise with your contacts. This way, when the time comes someone needs your services, you'll likely be at the top of the list.
3. Being impatient
Building a strong network takes time. Don't expect to have opportunities jump at you immediately, and keep in touch with your contacts, even if nothing imminent is on the horizon to discuss. This way, you will have colleagues to turn to when you need a hand in the future.
Consultants can't afford to take the networking process lightly. Building a career out of offering your skills and expertise on a project basis depends on a firsthand understanding of the industry. It's much easier to gain this level of insight when you’ve built meaningful relationships with other leaders in your field.
Check out these additional networking tips to help you in your outreach.