By Erik Zeberlein
January 7, 2022
When it’s time to launch your career, they hand you a networking card. It gets you into any virtual or in-person gathering and helps you leave with a big stack of business contacts.
No? Sorry about that. Maybe a networking card will exist someday, but in the meantime, networking is a skill you can and must learn. Networking expands your web of people to reach out to for advice, career opportunities, and professional growth.
Read on for tips to incorporate into your weekly routine. You’ll also learn about Surgent’s comprehensive “Skills to Develop Personal and Professional Networks” course, custom-designed to help accountants navigate their networks for career enhancement.
Identify Accounting Networking Opportunities
Fruitful networking takes time to develop. Even if you’re still in college or recently graduated, the sooner you begin, the sooner you will reap the benefits. If you’re breaking into accounting and finance, start by pursuing the networking opportunities within reach:
- Job fairs. Take your resume. Prepare your elevator speech. Meet recruiters face to face, and collect their business cards. Even if they don’t have an opening right now, they will remember you when the time comes.
- Internships. Working in an office builds collegial relationships with people who can become your future mentors and introduce you to their contacts.
- Volunteer. Volunteering expands your circle of contacts and showcases your particular skills. Working closely with others toward a shared vision helps build lasting relationships.
- Use your professors as a resource. Ask your professors and academic advisers to introduce you into their associations and networks.
- Get a part-time job in your chosen field. Instead of flipping burgers, find a job in accounting or finance that introduces you to leaders in the field.
- Join professional organizations. Someday, you will pay full membership fees for the essential associations in your field. However, there are probably campus chapters for students or introductory fees for recent graduates. Here’s your chance to circulate and get your name out there among seasoned veterans.
Develop a CPA Networking Strategy or Plan
Be methodical about your networking efforts. Build a plan around these factors:
- Think about career goals. Does this network or organization align with your career path? Does it offer resources and connections related to the area you want to pursue?
- Make your intentions known. Speak up, early and often, about your career goals. If you have an articulate vision, people will listen.
- Follow up with new connections. When you leave a virtual or in-person event, think about the people who made an impression on you. Start building relationships by sending a thank you note or – even better – a cogent question, with a reminder about where and how you met.
Stay tuned for more networking tips in the coming weeks, as well as some crucial info and things to keep in mind as you prepare for tax season!
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