Connecting with other like-minded and aspirational professionals is one of the top practices that contributes to career advancement. People in industries like accounting, which isn’t as relationship-based as an industry such as sales, may not have as much experience or natural inclination for networking with new people. Reap the benefits of professional relationships – network more effectively as an accounting professional with these four tips:

1. Focus on What You Can Give

Part of the reason many professionals, especially those in support roles like finance, are hesitant about networking is they think of it as being aggressively self-serving. In fact, approaching networking along the lines of “what can I get out of this relationship?” is actually pretty ineffective. When you’re meeting new colleagues, focus on what you can provide to them. Whether helpful advice or simply someone to chat industry with, giving is the first step to perhaps receiving (such as a job lead) down the road.

2. Get Involved in Industry Events

Industry events, or even online discussion forums, are a relatively non-awkward way of meeting new professional contacts since that tends to be one of the main purposes. Even if you’re not a natural at forming connections with people, you can still network pretty painlessly by participating in industry events. It’s easier to sustain a meaningful conversation if you have a shared common interest, so being among fellow accountants gives you a built-in connection from which to springboard.

3. Ask the Right Questions

Getting a conversation started is a professional skill that you can sharpen over time with practice. Fortunately, being an effective conversationalist doesn’t mean you have to be super charming and witty at all times. Form connections more easily by focusing on open-ended questions, rather than “yes or no” questions. This will get the person talking more and help get over the awkward small talk hump and transition you into a more meaningful conversation on a shared interest.

4. Maintain Relationships

Meeting people, striking up a conversation, and exchanging contact information is not where networking should end. That connection is meaningless in the longterm unless you take steps to cultivate the relationship and keep it alive. After you meet someone, follow up within a day or so to let them know it was nice to meet them and that you’d like to keep in touch. Periodically (every month or so) touch base with information of interest, such as an industry article, or arrange to meet up and chat.

Find your next accounting job with the help of Mark/Ryan Associates, Ltd. As a staffing agency that has been serving the Chicagoland area since 2004, we have accounting industry expertise that ensures we make knowledgeable and accurate recommendations for available positions from our clients. Search our current job openings to get started or contact us today to learn more about the services we provide job seekers.Take The Next Step in Your Career

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