You have likely heard the old saying: “It’s not what you know. It’s who you know.” In the field of finance and accounting, applying accountant networking tips can undoubtedly help you get hired and climb the corporate ladder. But knowing how to network and expand your professional circles can put you a step ahead of the competition. It can also open doors for your accounting career.
Your technical skills are essential to find employment and climb the corporate ladder, but so is the ability to network. Networking for jobs is about establishing relationships with people who can help you succeed. This is true whether you’re looking for your first accounting job or seeking a pay raise from your current employer.
Why Accountant Networking Is Critical
Networking can be critical to your career, even if you think that you’re not an extrovert. With networking, the more time and effort you invest, the better your return. And, if it’s tricky to begin with, remember that other people are doing it for the same reason as you.
Opportunities for career advancement can present themselves at unexpected times. The more you open yourself to professional exchange, the more you will find opportunities for career advancement.
Networking is important for accountants because 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. This will help you highlight your unique skills or personality traits. Of course networking is likely to open up new job opportunities for you as well.
1. Stop Caring About How Others View You
At one time or another, we’ve all been guilty of caring too much about what other people might think. We hesitate to be innovative, creative, or to speak up because we don’t want to be told that our ideas were bad. Or, we might even play that role for ourselves. Turning down a challenge or selling our own ideas short because we are worried they won’t work. As Seth Godin says, we don’t fear failure as much as we fear criticism.
Here are some tips to overcome criticism:
- Decide whose criticism matters and whose doesn’t. Not everyone’s opinion matters, and you shouldn’t let every comment affect you equally.
- Realize that anything worth doing will attract both good and bad feedback from people.
- Stay focused on the prize and steer through, or around, harsh criticism. Words can only hurt you if you let them.
2. Join Accounting Professional Organizations
One of the biggest secrets to building business relationships is to find existing clubs and organizations that are relevant to your needs. As you build your list of connections at these events, you eventually become a rainmaker. Rainmakers are people who connect people to others who can help them. The rainmaker’s biggest asset is their extensive social network that provides a constant supply of both leads and referral sources.
Even accounting students can become active in professional accounting organizations by joining at a discounted student member rate. There are numerous professional accounting organizations that offer fantastic networking opportunities and other potential benefits for you. Some of them offer college scholarships, events you can attend, educational opportunities, mentorship opportunities and countless other benefits.
Here are some respectable organizations that can provide you with numerous networking opportunities:
- Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA)
- American Payroll Association (APA)
- Accounting & Financial Women’s Alliance (AFWA)
- National Association of Black Accountants (NABA)
- Financial Executives International (FEI)
3. Network In All Directions: Up, Down, Across
One of the biggest accountant networking myths is that you should only network with people in higher positions than yours. Although you shouldn’t make a habit of being around people who aren’t where you want to be, you should always make time for hard-working people who are just beginning their journey.
Instead of just focusing on people in roles where you’d like to be, expand your vision to include lateral roles and your subordinates as well. As the saying goes, you never know who you’re talking to.
Here are some tips to make sure you’re networking correctly as you meet with people:
- Don’t kiss up to people. Instead, be respectful, sincere, and professional.
- Sell less, help more. Most people attempt to demonstrate boldness by selling right out of the gate. But, this will only ruin your first impression.
- Focus on them, not yourself. Learn their interests and Google their past accomplishments, then connect with them through any overlapping interests.
Ready to find your next accounting job? Join us!
At MBS Accountancy, we’re hiring talented, ambitious accountants who are ready to help clients at our modern accounting firm. Through dedication and hard work, our smaller firm has won big accomplishments, like being listed as a Forbes top accounting firm for 2021 and 2022. Check out our accounting jobs to learn more about our benefits and remote work options. We can’t wait to work with you!