Posted by Lisa Amstutz on Tuesday, March 11, 2014 - 00:00 | Follow me
Finding an accounting and finance job after college or after completing your CPA exam requires more than a degree or certification listed on your resume: It requires a solid financial network. As we’ve heard often, in the professional world it’s not so much what you know as it is whom you know. That’s why it’s so vital to grow and access your financial network while searching for a job. Not only is this step critical for landing new positions, but it’s also key to connecting with a wide array of colleagues once you are employed.
Networking can happen when you least expect it. You may unknowingly have a conversation with a company’s CFO while meeting with friends or even have a friend whose sibling is a hiring manager at an accounting firm. This includes many people inside and outside of your profession who could have connections you can use to your benefit.
You may feel you’ve already built a strong network, but this doesn’t mean you should stop adding to it. As you continue to meet new people through various methods — both in person and online — you can freshen up your knowledge of industry and local trends while connecting with colleagues.
Here are six tips to effectively expand your financial network:
- Manage your time. Even if you have limited time, you can still take steps to free up time for networking. While working more efficiently may seem like an obvious — and perhaps unachievable — tip, you’ll be surprised how tightening your schedule can afford you enough time to network online or have lunch with a colleague. Hint: Common workday interruptions may be your biggest time thief.
- Make use of online resources. Many professionals in your financial network maintain social media profiles and other means of networking online. Connect with new colleagues via LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other sites. Create a professional web domain under your name that includes your resume and contact information.
- Meet new people. You can expand your network by attending meetings, forums and seminars for accounting professionals. In addition to events related to the finance industry, network with others at social gatherings. Even if you’re out bowling or at a dinner party, feel free to swap business cards with new connections. You never know who might turn out to be someone who can help you.
- Don’t come across as cold. Being professional doesn’t mean you have to appear emotionless. Let your personality work with your professional image while you network so colleagues see you as friendly and approachable.
- Avoid overextending yourself. Expanding your network doesn’t dictate that you have to accept every LinkedIn connection or have lunch with every accountant you meet. In the final analysis, quality outstrips quantity as you build profitable relationships.
- Follow up sooner rather than later. Reconnect with new colleagues soon after the initial meeting so they remember your face and the conversation. Rather than calling new contacts, send brief hello emails or personalized LinkedIn requests.
Share your favorite tips for building your financial network with others in the comments section.