How to network professionally

Today’s competitive business environment requires a powerful professional network that can help you maintain your business identity. Networking is, in effect, building a community of people with common interests who are willing to help each other in many different ways, including getting a job, getting recognized in their field, or achieving better career benefits in their company.

Professional networking requires you to systematically look for new contacts to create relationships and achieve professional goals. Some people confuse these tactics with office politics, thereby considering networking a “dirty” method of career advancement. However, office politics tend to cast a shadow on formal organizational roles and hijack critical organizational processes. Networking sheds a light on talented, hard-working individuals. Furthermore, networking can be beneficial in highly competitive fields, like the accounting and finance sector.

Here are some useful tips on how to network professionally:

  1. Know what you’re looking for

People are using networking for all the different reasons. You may be seeking for advice on how to use a new service, another person may be looking for someone to involve them in a project. If you are joining networking events for the sake of meeting new people and hanging out with them, you will fail in building a strong networking community. Do not use networking just because it’s trendy. Know what you’re looking for.

  1. Contact the right people

By keeping on networking and building new relationships, you don’t necessarily create a powerful professional network. In contrast, you may be simply wasting your time over useless relationships that do not even belong to the finance field. Over time, this turns tiring, unproductive and discouraging. Compile a list of potential contacts with common interests and aspirations and create your own network of people who could be of assistance in the long run.

  1. Ask for advice from the experts

If you are not experienced in networking, ask for advice from people who have already built strong professional networks. Alternatively, you may read related articles written by people with experience in networking to get ideas on how to network in the finance field. Also, you may attend presentations delivered by experienced networkers and meet them to ask for their advice.

  1. Leave a strong first impression

Once you have selected your potential contacts, make sure to make a good impression. There is no second first impression and you have only seven seconds to make it or break it. First impressions are tied closely to positive body language. Therefore, make sure to maintain an eye contact, use an enthusiastic tone and control your expressions to make all the difference in the conversation.

  1. Capitalize on the power of social networking

Social networking can be a great help in your effort to build a strong professional network. There are numerous career-oriented websites that can help you come in contact with experts in the finance field and exchange views on common interests. LinkedIn is the most popular social site for professionals, but you can also try Accounting And Financial Professionals Jobs (AAFP), AccountingJobsToday.com and Association for Financial Professionals (AFP), which are great networking sites and job boards for the finance field.

  1. Follow-up

Never forget to follow up. If you have invested a lot of time and effort in building a relationship, make sure to follow up on this professional contact. This is extremely important in the finance field, which is highly competitive and demanding. If you feel you need assistance in overcoming certain fears related to networking, ask for the help of a mentor. Mentors have professional experience and can give you valuable advice.

Overall, professional networking can offer you great job opportunities, especially in the finance field. There are all sorts of networking events, where you can meet professionals and exchange views about accounting and finance or people. In every aspect, networking is an extremely powerful tool that deserves special attention. Therefore, make sure to use it properly.

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