My networking connections challenge me to think in new ways, see other perspectives and inspire me to excel. Networking with other business people and accountants helps me think outside the box, identify opportunities and tackle challenges. I’m able to apply what I learn from one avenue to the next and grow within the profession. I hope that the following networking tips can serve you in your career:
1. Think selflessly - Many people take the ‘what’s in it for me?’ approach when networking or joining a professional organization. But this is the wrong attitude to take. Instead, think of networking as a two way street. Consider whether the networking events you attend, the connections you make or professional organizations you join will help others—or the accounting profession. Your role in “giving back” to the people and businesses within your network can be tremendously rewarding. The reality of course, is that chances are high you will reap tremendous benefits yourself but the difference is that now the benefits are a “pleasant surprise” rather than an “impatient expectation”.
2. Listen more than you talk - It’s important to listen just as much, if not more, than you talk. To truly engage in a conversation, it is vital that you listen. Many people believe they have to set the tone of the conversation by saying what their view is, but more often than not, doing so clams everyone else up. Conversations are stifled by one-sided interactions. Avoid cutting off someone in mid-conversation; show respect and allow others to finish their thoughts and express their perspectives.
3. Extend yourself - Make sure that the networking events and professional activities that you participate in take you at least a little out of your comfort zone both technically and culturally. The pace of change in our world is constantly accelerating and this ensures that you stay relevant.
4. Ask questions - If there is an idea you have been toying with, or a challenge at your organization, feel open to ask others how they handle similar situations. By asking questions, you are engaging others in conversation, and benefiting from other perspectives that you may not have thought about.
5. Always follow-up - Many relationships are solidified, not during initial exchanges, but after them. Sending a thank you email to someone who you bounced ideas off of, can pay off exponentially. This also gives them a chance to remember who you are and what you do, which can lead to other opportunities, such as speaking engagements or job interviews.
Bob Scott is Chief Financial Officer/Assistant City Manager for the City of Carrollton. He has a Master’s degree in Accounting and a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science from Texas Tech University. He is a past chair for GFOA’s Committee for Accounting, Auditing and Financial Reporting (CAAFR) and he currently serves on the GFOA’s Executive Board. He has twice been awarded (1997 and 2009) the Outstanding Finance Officer Award from the GFOA of Texas and in 2008 the he was awarded the AICPA Outstanding CPA in Government- Local award.