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  • Writer's pictureCPAA

Network like a pro

In the world of accountancy, practitioners may easily find themselves immersed in a sea of numbers, regulations and deadlines. The notion of establishing networks, cultivating relationships and investing in the wider community may seem of lesser importance. In truth, the benefits are significant; from building a good reputation and generating career openings, to providing invaluable opportunities for support and knowledge exchange.

 

In this article, we explore why networking with accountancy peers and the wider business community is crucial, and look at how to excel at it. First up, let’s consider why networking matters:

 

·        Access to opportunities

Networking opens doors to career opportunities that may not be advertised through traditional channels. By cultivating relationships with fellow accountants, you gain insight into job openings and potential collaborations. Whether it's landing yourself a job referral, uncovering a lucrative project, or opening the door to acquire a practice or be bought out - networking provides gateways.

 

·        Knowledge exchange and learning

Accountancy is a constantly evolving field, with regulations, technologies and best practice continually changing. Networking with peers allows you to tap into a wealth of knowledge and expertise. Engaging in discussions and participating in professional forums provide opportunities to learn from others' experiences, share insights, and stay informed. This exchange can enrich your understanding and enhance your problem-solving abilities and decision-making skills.

 

·        Support and mentorship

Navigating the complexities of the accountancy profession can be challenging, especially for early-career professionals. Networking offers a support system where peers can provide guidance, advice and mentorship. Establishing mentor-mentee relationships with seasoned professionals can offer invaluable insights, career guidance and emotional support. Being part of a supportive network allows you to seek assistance when facing professional dilemmas, uncertainties or career transitions.

 

·        Professional visibility and credibility

Active participation in networking events and industry gatherings elevates your professional visibility and credibility. By showcasing your expertise, sharing your views and contributing to discussions, you establish yourself as a knowledgeable and respected professional. This can lead to recognition, referrals, and opportunities for thought leadership, bolstering your reputation and career prospects.

 

·        Business development and client referrals

Networking is not only about connecting with fellow accountants, but also about forging relationships with potential clients and suppliers. Building a robust network enables you to expand your client base and secure new opportunities. Through networking, you can identify prospects and showcase your capabilities, which can only help with your business development.

 

What can you do to be really good at networking and feel comfortable doing it? In his book, ‘For the Love of Networking’, author John Harvey of South West based The Samphire Club, explores how to put successful networking at the heart of your business and life and shares his secrets to success. He makes the point that “networking is more than an activity. It has to come from a good place, with good intentions.”

 

Here are some starting points:

 

·        Be genuine and authentic

Approach networking with authenticity and sincerity. Focus on building genuine connections based on mutual respect and shared interests. Be yourself, listen actively and demonstrate a genuine interest in others. People connect to people. Authentic relationships are more likely to flourish and yield meaningful opportunities.

 

·        Proactively engage and contribute

Take an active role in networking events, conferences and professional gatherings. Initiate conversations, ask thoughtful questions and participate in discussions. Share your knowledge and experiences generously. By contributing meaningfully to the conversation, you position yourself as a valuable and engaged member of the community.

 

·        Cultivate a diverse network

Diversify your network by connecting with professionals from various backgrounds, industries and career stages. Embrace diversity and seek out individuals with different perspectives, skills and experiences. A diverse network not only enriches your own learning and growth but also expands your access to opportunities and resources.

 

·        Follow up and nurture relationships

Networking doesn't end after exchanging business cards or connecting on LinkedIn. Follow up with your contacts and nurture relationships over time – online and in person. Stay in touch through regular communication, scheduling a coffee or attending industry events together. You can event host your own event. Invest time and effort in cultivating meaningful connections that go beyond surface-level interactions.

 

·        Give before you receive

Approach networking with a mindset of generosity and reciprocity. Look for ways to offer assistance, support and value to your network without expecting immediate returns. Whether it's providing advice, making introductions, or sharing resources, if you give before you receive it fosters goodwill. In the long run, your generosity is likely to be reciprocated, leading to mutually beneficial opportunities and stronger relationships.

 

Networking with peers is not just about expanding your professional circle; it's about fostering meaningful and rewarding connections, sharing knowledge and perspectives, and creating opportunities for growth and collaboration. The next tranche of regional seminars run by the CPAA are a chance to put this into action. Taking place in September, across 10 locations throughout the UK, these events offer the chance to hone the essential skill of networking.

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