Networking Tips for Accountants
For many professionals in the accounting field, networking is a scary word. Oftentimes, accountants go into the field because they prefer numbers over people. If this sounds like you, don‚Äôt worry. Today we want to offer some tips for making networking easier for you.¬†
1. Generate great conversations.
One key to good networking is creating interesting and memorable conversations. In order to do this, when you find yourself in a networking situation, remember to bring your OARS:
- Observe ‚Äì Pay attention to what is going on around you.
- Ask ‚Äì Asking questions is a great way to keep conversations moving.
- Relate and/or Reveal ‚Äì Empathize with the people around you. Be willing to share how you have encountered the same issues or situations as them.
- Sustain with Stories ‚Äì Have one or two good stories in the back of your mind to bring up if the conversation dries up.
2. Stand out from the crowd.
The best networkers know how to shine. Try these tips:
- Focus on the people around you, rather than getting distracted by what is happening outside of your conversation. Others will appreciate it when you stop doing other things, make eye contact, and listen attentively.
- Pay attention to names‚Äîit helps everyone feel comfortable and appreciated. Introduce yourself and others with enthusiasm and, as often as possible, use people‚Äôs names. If you have trouble remembering names and other information given during introductions, develop some association tricks to help you pick up names, roles, affiliations, etc. more easily.
- Have a ‚Äúbag of tricks‚Äù‚Äîthree to five planned topics or pieces of conversation‚Äîthat you can pull out in the event of an awkward silence. The best way to develop these is to read often, share knowledge freely, and be aware of your world.¬†
3. Prepare your entrance and exit lines in advance.
Smoothly entering and exiting conversations is something of an art form. Luckily, it is a skill that anybody can develop. All it takes is a bit of planning and practice. Try these tips:
- When you see a crowd of three or more people, try walking up and asking, ‚ÄúMay I join you?‚Äù It is a simple and effective way of entering a conversation.
- When you are ready to disembark, try one of the following moves:
- Wait for a lull in conversation then excuse yourself
- Wish the party well and depart
- Invite the group to join you in another location or activity
- Offer a next meeting time
4. Keep an ample supply of business cards on hand.
Many people struggle to remember names, faces, and conversations, especially during networking events where they meet a lot of new people. Sharing your business card with people you meet is a great way to help them remember who you are and what you do. It can even be a helpful touchpoint when you reach out to them in the future. For example, in a follow-up email you can remind them, ‚ÄúMy name is John Doe, we met at such-and-such event‚ÄîI gave you my business card.‚Äù
5. Practice your handshake.
Nobody likes a limp handshake. Luckily, if you struggle in this regard, it is an easy skill to master. Consider asking a friend, a colleague, or your spouse to practice with you. Have them evaluate your handshake and general demeanor as you pretend to meet for the first time. As you work to develop a firm, confident handshake, be sure that is accompanied with eye contact and a smile.¬†
6. Keep your volume in mind‚Äîspeak loudly enough to be heard, but do not yell.
Remember the last time you were in a conversation with somebody who spoke so quietly that you constantly had to ask them to repeat themselves? Nobody likes to be in that situation. Make a better impression while networking by speaking at a volume that is easy for others to hear and understand. That said, don‚Äôt take it too far‚Äîyou don‚Äôt need to yell. Pay attention to indicators that your speaking volume is not at a good level and adjust accordingly.¬†
Networking can be an intimidating task. The best way to get more comfortable is to practice‚Äîput yourself out there and give it a try. Make sure to review these tips prior to attending your next networking event, and pay attention to how they help!