As a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), networking is an essential part of your career. It not only helps you to find job opportunities but helps you to find and keep clients after you begin working. In fact, as much as 80% of people receive their jobs via networking. Of course, to do so effectively, you need to know how to network and where to find opportunities. This guide to CPA networking will help you do just that.
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
The most effective networking skills aren’t things you’ll learn in books or at seminars. They’re the same interview skills you’ve been learning since high school or even earlier. When you’re attempting to network with people, always approach them with a smile on your face. Walk with good posture and confidence, too. As you’re navigating a conversation, be sure to make eye contact and actively listen to what your peers are saying during the conversation. This ensures you are making a true connection and can have a deeper conversation. Finally, when you’re done talking to someone, give him or her a firm handshake. Don’t forget to thank the person you’re talking to for giving you some time.
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The Best Places for Networking
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Classmates and Peers
Don’t underestimate 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 your networking attempts are successful is to ensure 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.