Posted by Robert Half Management Resources on Tuesday, December 9, 2014 - 00:00 | Follow me
You know the spiel: Professional networking can lead to new business endeavors, career opportunities, and better relations both inside and outside your company. It’s likely you reached your current position at least in part by knowing how to work your network, but even CFOs and other high-level financial professionals can benefit from a quick refresher.
For one thing, a little professional networking is good for everyone. Also, when you advance to upper management, there are new reasons for networking, such as employee retention and motivation.
Here are three tips to sharpen your networking skills during the holiday season and throughout the year:
1. Take advantage of the company party
No matter the size of your organization, chances are slim that your role allows you ample time to mix and mingle with all your staff during the workday. Make up for it by rubbing elbows with your team and peers and colleagues from other departments at office social events, like the holiday party. A little internal networking will help you do the following:
- Connect in-person with the people whose names you see in emails or on reports
- Build rapport with staff
- Observe your staff and colleagues in a less formal setting, and get a feel for which employees demonstrate leadership potential
- Stay current with behind-the-scenes facets of your organization
- Personally thank team members and acknowledge their successes
- Ramp up employee motivation by showing you care about them as people — not just employees
- Gain insight into problems you might not be aware of, such as low morale, poor communications or individuals who seem disengaged
2. Give yourself a gift
This holiday season, what better gift could you ask for than a stronger skill set? That may be a tall order from Santa, but you can make this happen by taking an active interest in your position outside the office.
In a Forbes article, Ben Mulling, CFO at Tente Casters, Inc. and a member of the Institute of Management Accountants global board of directors, suggested volunteering or joining professional organizations to — what else? — network with people you might not normally interact with. Mulling noted the advantages of crossing paths with individuals who have myriad skills. Everyone you meet through these activities has the potential to teach you new techniques or become an adviser of some sort.
These ventures also place you in unfamiliar scenarios, which could lead to fresh thinking regarding communication, team building and other challenges every financial executive faces. Finally, it gives you an opportunity to lead outside your organization, which further hones your skill set.
3. Avoid these networking faux pas, 365 days a year
Let’s face it, we all make networking blunders. In a recent Robert Half survey, senior managers weighed in on the biggest networking mistakes professionals make. Here are the top responses and what you can learn from them:
- Not asking for help when you need it
Lesson: Don’t let your title or pride get in the way of asking your networking contacts for assistance. The best leaders aren’t afraid to learn from or occasionally lean on others.
- Not keeping in touch with contacts
Lesson: There’s no point in making connections if you’re going to let them fall by the wayside.
- Not saying thank you when you receive assistance
Lesson: Take a minute to send an email, jot a note or drop by the desk of a networking connection who lent a hand. You can never say thank you too often.
- Failing to respond to requests for help
Lesson: To remedy the situation, apologize and extend a follow-up offer of help if it’s still needed.
What networking tips do you have for your fellow financial leaders?
- Keeping Your Network Active After Landing a Job
- 3 Networking No-No's for Finance Consultants
- The Virtual Handshake - 3 Executive Networking Tips
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