The Importance of Networking
Networking is important for CPAs for a couple of reasons. Most importantly, it helps you to build your brand. You may not sell specific products, but you do sell a service: your skills. When you network, you get to show people knowledge and skills that help you to leave a good, long-term impression on them. When you begin the networking process, consider what sets you apart from other people in your industry and highlight your unique skills or personality traits. Of course, as people get to know you, networking is likely to open up new job opportunities for you as well.
Honing Your Networking Skills
Video: Networking & Building Relationships Throughout Your CareerNetworking is one of the most important skills to have. Whether you're a college student, recent graduate, or working professional, here are 4 tips you can use to successfully network and expand your reach.
The Best Places for Networking
Join clubs or organizations that are related to your profession while you’re attending a university. Extracurricular clubs are an excellent way to round out your resume upon graduation, not to mention the fact that they are often led or visited by leaders in the profession. Whether specific to accounting or a broader business club, joining will allow you to meet with influential guest speakers, visit local CPA or business firms, and more. Often, you can ask questions or talk to speakers after events. It is a good idea to ask for a business card, briefly mention your goals, and then follow up with an email a few days later.
Throughout your college career, the school you attend will have a variety of career fairs. These fairs are an excellent way to work on your networking skills before you’re even ready to enter the workforce and could even lead to employment when you graduate. Attend as many of them as you can, making sure to bring an updated copy of your resume. It is also important to create an “elevator pitch” to show why you’d be an excellent choice for a company. Keep in mind that representatives at career fairs often see hundreds of people in a single day. This means it’s important to make yourself stand out, not only in how you present yourself, but in the questions, you ask as well. Be sure to dress well, collect contact information from representatives, and ask thoughtful questions throughout the day.
How to Conquer Meet the FirmsSoon-to-be accounting graduates attend Meet the Firms events to get a jump start on their accounting careers. We’ve put together our top resources to give you the inside scoop on what recruiters are looking for, so you can make a great first impression.
Classmates and Peers
Don’t underestimate the networking value of your peers, especially if they are in graduate school. People working toward master’s degrees typically already work within their chosen industries, which means the people you attend class with could have leads on jobs or even just provide you with good career advice. Even if they don’t have leads for you, classmates are often more than happy to let you use them as personal references during interview processes. Just be sure to return the favor!
These days, you don’t even need to leave your couch to get a head start on career networking. LinkedIn, a social networking platform created with careers in mind, is an excellent way to begin the networking process. In fact, some of the most prestigious accounting firms in the world use the website to screen potential employees and learn about up-and-comers in the industry.
LinkedIn is also a great way to find articles, books, and other commentary about your profession. To ensure you’re putting your best digital foot forward, keep your profile up to date, use a professional headshot as your profile photo, and create a focused headline. Don’t forget to include keywords throughout your profile to improve your chances of coming up in search results. Finally, proofread twice!
The Biggest Tip for Networking Success
The biggest tip to ensure successful networking is to ensure that your conversations go both ways. After all, most of the people you’ll meet at events or in clubs are trying to network as well. If you expect them to help you, you need to be willing to reciprocate. Contribute to the conversation by asking questions, actively listening to the answers, and avoiding negativity. Be sure to exchange business cards with your peers and follow up with them to see how their networking process is going as well. Showing active interest shows you truly care about the connections you make and aren’t just in it for yourself.
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