CPA Career Networking​

Networking is an important part of a CPA’s career. It not only helps you find job opportunities, but also helps keep current clients.
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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. 

The Best Places for Networking

Even the strongest networking skills won’t be useful if you aren’t sure where to use them. You can network practically anywhere, depending on the situation (know how to read the room). However, there are some places where you’re more likely to be successful than others.

Accounting Clubs

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 of or otherwise 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.

Career Fairs

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 as soon as 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 Firms

Soon-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.
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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!

LinkedIn

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.

Final Thoughts

Remember, just like anything else, networking takes practice. Keep attending events and honing your skills.
Over time, you'll get where you want to be as a CPA.
 

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