5 tips for networking in accountancy and finance.
If you’re an interim worker in an accountancy and finance role, then it is likely that one of your top skills is communicating with new people, in new situations - it comes with the territory of moving between assignments regularly. In fact, if you are looking to grow your contacts in your sector or are after your next role, then it is a skill that you can put to good use by networking.
What is networking?
Essentially, networking is what it says on the tin: it is the process of building your social network by exchanging information and ideas with people with common professions or interests. It usually happens in an informal social setting or an event, but increasingly can be done virtually too.
Why is networking important?
The ability to network is a sought after skill by many professionals. By being confident in your networking skills, you can not only improve your industry knowledge by meeting with like-minded people, but also get your name out there to be considered for job opportunities.
As an interim worker or a contractor, it’s key for you to generate your own opportunities to network. You can do this by attending as many relevant industry events as possible, whether a conference, trade fair, or a more social event. Since the start of the pandemic, more and more online networking opportunities have opened up too - you can send your online connections personal updates to let them know when you’re available, actively connect with relevant people on sites such as LinkedIn, and also look out for chances to help your online connections out too. You can do this either by recommending their services or making introductions for them.
So, how can you network effectively?
- Here are Randstad’s 5 top tips for networking in accountancy and finance roles:
- Set yourself clear goals
- Have your elevator pitch ready
- Listen actively to others
- Have questions ready to ask
- Follow up on interactions
Set yourself clear goals.
Just as when you’re applying for a job or starting a new project, it’s important to set yourself goals for your networking. For example, aim to talk to at least five new contacts during an event or to exchange contact details with a representative of a specific organisation. You can also set yourself targets to read a number of industry articles and share them with your online connections, or aim to connect with a new relevant contact on LinkedIn every week.
Have your elevator pitch ready.
You’ve got yourself to an in-person event or you’ve started an online conversation. Great! But what happens when someone asks you about yourself and your career goals? Again, just as in an interview or job application you need to be ready. That’s where an elevator pitch comes in. This is a short summary of yourself and your work that will help you to introduce yourself effectively, and should be engaging and relevant. If you are attending an in-person event and have printed business cards, it can also be a good idea to take some of these with you to give out to contacts you make.
Listen actively to others.
A key skill of a good networker is being able to listen and engage with who they are speaking to. It can make a real difference to how you come across to others if you are genuinely interested in what people are saying, and work hard to offer mutual benefit to your new contact. For example, you could offer a personal introduction to someone or give your insight where relevant.
Have questions ready to ask.
As well as being ready to listen, it’s also important to be prepared to ask relevant questions whilst networking. Think about what you could learn from the person you are speaking to, and what insight you would like to gain from an interaction. Having questions ready can also impress a future employer or co-worker.
Follow up on interactions.
Once you have attended an online or virtual event, or initiated a conversation, make sure you follow up. Drop your new contact a quick email, LinkedIn message or text letting them know how much you valued your conversation with them. It can also be worthwhile to schedule yourself reminders to follow up on those conversations in a few months time.