In Pursuit of Profit
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Networking is usually a prescriptive topic. Resources will tell you what to do in concrete terms, like practice your elevator pitch, make eye contact, and send a follow up email after meeting someone.
And while these tips are not bad advice, they do not address the underlying question of, “Why are you networking?” As a result, they are very little help because they provide obvious advice that even entry-level professionals already know. They also fail to customize the provided advice for a specific industry or individual. So, instead of being redundant and just providing the same information that you can get anywhere online, we wanted to put together a resource that would actually help accountants to network with other accounting professionals.
We asked our team how they network these days, and these are their top tips:
Think Before You Jump In
Now, before you start networking, the best thing you can do is figure out what you hope to gain by networking.
These are all common reasons to want to connect with other accountants (okay, except maybe that last one!). Once you can answer the question of “Why do I want to network?” check out the accountant networking tips below.
Network In-Person at Local Accounting Events
In-person networking is the most effective way for any professional to network. Physical cues like a firm handshake (or perhaps a fist bump) and eye contact go a long way in establishing rapport.
Make a point of regularly searching for local networking opportunities and then get them on your calendar right away before you forget. You do not need to make it to every single event (in fact, you probably do not want to go to everything available because you will look desperate) but try to make it occasionally to stay current on the scene. Follow all the usual social advice to make a good impression and remind yourself to listen as well as talk so your new connections feel like you value their time
Network with Virtual Accounting Groups
With so many in-person networking events being scaled down or canceled altogether, virtual events have taken center stage. Join virtual accounting groups and organizations to connect with other accounting professionals at various stages of their careers. You never know when a job offer, or mentoring opportunity may come out of a virtual meeting.
Just remember that you will need treat virtual networking like in-person networking for it to be successful. Where digital networking usually falls short is in the personal connection category. Focus on genuinely connecting instead of just “networking” – approach new professional relationships with a mindset of asking how you can serve the other person not what the other person can do for you.
Do not treat an online networking opportunity like a video call with a coworker, where you touch base and get what you want as efficiently as possible. Take the time to build rapport, whether it is related to your current role, geography, or even personal interests. You are much more likely to be remembered if you make a deeper connection that just sharing about your experience like a talking resume. Think about it, who are you going to remember – the accountant who has 6 years of experience in a fast-paced startup environment or the accountant who is an avid hiker and wants to make it the length of the Appalachian trail some day?
Join virtual groups and then get involved in the conversation by lending your expertise. If you are a CPA, check out the Oregon Society of CPAs or the Washington Society of Certified Public Accountants for events to attend.
Introduce Yourself to Local Accounting Firms
The best way to connect with likeminded people is to put yourself in their midst – connect with local accounting firms online by following their social media pages and attending any events that they put on. Put yourself on their radar so that when they are hiring, they think of you. Remember, you do not need to solely connect with their recruiters or hiring managers either – connecting with people at your same career level is beneficial as well because they will be aware of openings as they become available.
Leverage your Professional Network
Connect with former classmates or coworkers on LinkedIn to get access to each other’s work history. Where there is career overlap or adjacency, reach out to catch up. The better you maintain your LinkedIn network, the easier it will be to leverage it later. When you are ready, use your LinkedIn network to let people know you are looking for a job or a mentor. Use discretion, where necessary when job searching by communicating through private messages rather than a public post.
On LinkedIn, look for groups like Successful QuickBooks Consultants, Women in Numbers, the Certified Accountant Group, or The Profitable Accountant.
Tap your Personal Networks
Like any other professionals, accountants are more than just their jobs. Examine the various personal networks you have and look for people that would be beneficial to connect with professionally. Hobbies, interests, volunteer organizations, church, school, or anything else that you are a part of can be a great place to meet all different kinds of people, even those that might prove to be beneficial to your career.
Remember, indirect connections can be valuable too. So, even if no one on your pickup basketball team is an accountant, they could have other friends that are, and you may be able to use them as a bridge to make the connection. Keep your ears open for opportunities to connect no matter where you are.
If you are looking for accounting and finance job openings, take a look at which positions we are currently hiring for in the Pacific Northwest. We specialize in providing accounting services to companies looking to outsource their financial needs as well as recruiting for full-time accounting roles. We are always looking for more accountants to connect with our robust team of highly experienced accounting and finance staff. Go ahead and introduce yourself today!