Networking

Today, more than ever, networking is an important part of your career development. There are many layers to networking for a B&I CPA today. First, there is the networking within your company. It is important to get to know more people than your boss and your colleagues in your silo. You need to know and be known by your boss’ peers as well as you boss’ boss’ peers. You can be the best employee in the company, but if leadership doesn’t know who you are then you will not be the person they think of when career opportunities appear. It is important that your immediate boss is willing to support you, but his/her job will be much easier if there are other voices in the room that will join in a positive chorus.

You also need to develop relationships with peers outside your organization. These relationships are useful for two purposes. First, getting anything important done in business today invariably requires a team from many disciplines. Second, it’s important that your good name is repeated to your boss’ peers by their staff as someone that is helpful and they enjoy working with when the occasion presents itself.

Networking should also go beyond your immediate employer. One of the best places to start is with your professional organization. Local chapters are a great way to meet people in all stages of their careers. Your professional organization can be a great source of guidance, development and opportunities. This kind of networking can be very useful in today’s world where a career can consist of jobs at several different employers. Studies have shown that up to 50% of jobs are filled because the applicant learned of the job from someone in the company rather than through staffing agencies or on-line sites like Monster.com.

And that brings up an important topic. Some people equate getting jobs through relationships as advancing a career through the good ‘ole boys network or something akin to nepotism, but the truth is a lot less negative than those who have such a view would have you believe. There is actually nothing evil about getting a job through someone you know. The truth is that hiring decisions are some of the most critical a business can make. Getting it right can make the difference between a thriving business and a struggling one. In making that decision, it only makes sense that the hiring manager will use every edge he or she has including previous knowledge of the candidates. So all things being equal, or even close, the hiring manager is naturally going to choose the person he or she knows and trusts.

Of course networking has gone virtual today as well. Posting your resume to LinkedIn is a start, but a true virtual network takes more than maintaining or setting up a LinkedIn account. A virtual network needs to be built over a variety of channels. You can develop a twitter network by following and being followed by others. You can get involved in conversations by commenting on blogs and questions posted on-line. Finally, you can seek to become an on-line expert by writing your own blogs and leading conversations on-line.

No matter whether your network is a new virtual one or an old fashioned one, there is one truth about networking. You need to build and sustain your network when you don’t need it so it will be there when you do. So get started on your network today and it will be there to help you throughout your career.

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