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. Nick Spoltore, Surgent’s VP of Strategic Content Development, states, “…We all know bringing in business will ensure long-term success. It is the definitive hallmark for advancement, and many would argue it’s more important than advanced expertise. Here at Surgent, we have the technical nuts and bolts courses covered comprehensively. But we recognize the implicit need for content on professional development as well.”
Read on for tips to incorporate into your weekly routine. You’ll also learn about Surgent’s comprehensive course Skills to Develop Personal and Professional Networks, which speaks directly to the need for professional development and helps tax professionals navigate their networks for career enhancement.
Fruitful networking takes time to develop. The sooner you begin, the sooner you will reap the benefits. Start by pursuing the networking opportunities within reach.
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.
Manage and Grow Your Existing Network
Leverage your built-in network. This includes your colleagues, employers, and even family members. Tap into those connections to start growing your network:
- Make your presence known. Be persistent and consistent in your involvement. Contribute relevant comments to online forums. Share your successes, challenges, and willingness to learn.
- Attend networking events – online and offline. Let people get to know you by attending trade shows, conferences, and association meetings. Participate in Twitter chats and LinkedIn groups.
- Hang out at the places the people you want to connect with hang out. Think about what you want to be, and go where that group of people gathers, whether it’s a happy hour spot or a trending hashtag. Introduce yourself, and people will welcome you.
- Be a giver, not a taker. Offer advice, fresh perspectives, and assistance.
- Be a good listener. Your networking contacts will appreciate your sympathetic ear and genuine interest in their well-being.
- Never be afraid to ask for what you want. Spend your networking time on the things you need. Ask the group or individual contacts for advice, a meeting, or feedback that leads toward your professional goals.
- Think about long-term relationships. True networking is the stepping-stone to productive relationships that seal the deal. Create a two-way street for communication and support among people who resonate with you.
- Follow up with all your connections. Email your new contacts the next day, expressing your pleasure at meeting and offering to help with anything they need. If you promised to do something, follow through with it.
Learn How to Create New Contacts
Connections can happen anywhere. Learning how to diversify your network opens new realms of possibilities:
- Go to non-industry events. If a particular field sparks your curiosity, pursue it. People love it when someone shows interest in what they do, and you can use the opportunity to start a professional friendship.
- Broaden your definition of networking. Personal or professional acquaintance – no difference. Everyone you know can offer support in your next career move.
- Develop other interests. It’ll make you knowledgeable in issues outside your industry, which establishes you as a resource among professionals in other fields.
- Find people with similar hobbies. Sports. Art. Science. Your non-work interests are the ticket to meeting people with shared passions but different backgrounds. Look for clubs at work, in the community, and online.
- Leverage your network’s contacts. Who do your contacts know? Use LinkedIn to search your network’s contacts and send connection requests mentioning your contact’s name. Or ask your peers about their philanthropic, volunteer, and networking pursuits.
- Define your target audience. Use LinkedIn to track the clubs and groups they belong to as well. Join up, attend virtual and in-person meetings, and get in touch with the people who interest you.
Understand the Value of Personal Networks
No matter where you are in life or how busy you are, it’s time to make networking a top priority. Devote 10 minutes a day to virtual networks. Join associations and let your employer and family know that attending association events is a priority.
What Does Your Personal Network Offer?
- Support and guidance. A word from someone who has been in your shoes can help you make the right choice at career crossroads. It can boost your confidence when the going is tough.
- Exposure to career opportunities. Online job searches put you in a pool with a gazillion other candidates. Personal contacts alert you when your dream job opens up, and they can provide meaningful recommendations.
- Personal and professional development. Your networking contacts can share exciting professional development opportunities that they’ve heard about. They can even buddy up for the journey.
How Does Networking Give You Advantage?
- Collaborating on projects. So the boss put you in charge of a project for the firm’s biggest client. Networking to the rescue! You know trusted people who can freelance or offer their professional services. Win-win. They build their portfolios. You nail the project.
- Advice and professional experience. You have questions. What’s my next career move? Why isn’t this working out as I planned? How do I take on more responsibility? No need to flounder. The wider your network, the more people you know who can provide wise counsel.
Surgent Supports All Your Accounting Networking Needs
At Surgent, we know that your college degrees didn’t come with a course in networking. And yet, networking is essential for the early-career accountant or tax professional. The Surgent course, “Skills to Develop Personal and Professional Networks,” equips you to network smartly, through proven strategies targeting your personal and professional goals.
- Value of strategic networking
- Quality vs. quantity
- Networking for professional opportunities
- Person-to-person networking
- Maintaining and expanding your current network
- Networking tips for introverts
- Long-term networking strategies
Most importantly, this course is designed specifically for the accounting and financial services professional looking to leverage networking for career gain. No advance preparation is needed. Just bring your desire to network effectively and turn your contacts into valuable allies.
Grow in Your Accounting Career with Surgent
Accountants work in a field that is constantly changing, and success demands that you change and grow with it. Formulating a network plan based on your career goals and field of endeavor opens doors to a world of people who are ready to support you and, at times, challenge you to expand your horizons.
Surgent is your best choice for growing your professional network, as well as finding robust, rigorous, and timely professional or continuing education that elevates your career.
Enroll in the Surgent’s Skills to Develop Personal and Professional Networks course and find out why pros who know trust Surgent.