If you have ever found yourself thinking that professional advice just doesn’t relate to you as an accounting candidate, you’re probably right. Each industry has its own rules and relevant advice because the playing field is different across industries. But even within an industry, accounting professionals have a very different perspective of day-to- day business. Key among those differences is networking. This article provides a fresh look and some helpful advice for accounting candidates on how to network effectively, and how it differs from other professions.
Recognize the Value of Networking
Professional networking is the single-most successful tool in advancing your career. This is true across most professions, and as an accountant you shouldn’t ignore that. But it can be difficult for accountants to network outside of their current company as those interactions don’t happen as naturally as other professions. Often, accounting professionals have difficulty reaching out and making high-quality connections without coming across as needy, forced, or time consuming. But there are a number of ways to ease the communication. Professional connections have great long term value in ways that might not be readily apparent, but continuing to build your web of connections will help put you in the right place at the right time for future opportunities.
Join a Networking Group or Professional Association
Becoming familiar with other accountants within your industry is a great way to make connections that could result in future employment opportunities. Many regional networking groups meet regularly in a low pressure, fun networking environment, allowing members the chance to mingle and get to know other professionals in the area. While each individual connection might not necessarily result in an opportunity, secondary or tertiary recommendations are equally valuable in terms of connecting you to future opportunities. You really never know what a connection can lead to.
Keep in Touch with External Clients
As an accountant, you may or may not have external clients whom you interact with on a regular basis, but you will likely have connections outside of your office who have seen how you work and whom you have interacted with. Keep in touch with these connections. LinkedIn and other professional networks are a great way to keep track of past client and collaborators in a noninvasive and simple way. Building on friendships and relationships with people you have worked with in the past will help to bolster your professional network and help you identify opportunities before they hit the mainstream.
While it might feel awkward or overly forward to reach out to someone outside of the workplace, there are a number of ways to approach the conversation. You can simply reach out to stay in touch or see how they are doing (people love to talk about themselves), or maybe invite them to an event or upcoming meeting. Likewise, you could ask for their advice or help on an issue that they would have a unique perspective on, or follow up on past projects that you have in common.
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