Are there any advice or tips on how to properly network with professional accountants?
I am a second year accounting student that have attended many career fairs, networking events, and clubs to start building the all-important connections. However, I feel I have not made much progress each time I go to a different event. My questions are generic despite how hard I try to come up with new topics to talk about. In the end, I become unforgettable easily. Do you have any advice or tips on how to leave an impression when trying to network with professional accountants?
1) Professional Accountants are people too! I know it can be easy to be intimidated, but remember that they were just like you once! See if you can connect with them on a personal level. "What challenges did you face when you were my age?"
2) Don't ask questions just to get answers to that first question. The easiest way to be "forgettable" is to only ask a question to get the answer to that question and then moving on. Make sure to pay attention to their answer, and ask a followup question about the answer that they gave.
For example, if someone answered the above with "When I was your age, I had trouble with self confidence." Don't just say "thank you" and move on to the next question! Ask them a followup! Maybe "that's really interesting! I struggle with that a bit myself. You seem really confident now; how did you change that about yourself." Make it a conversation.
3) This is intertwined in the above two points, but people love to share about themselves. Ask them to share their own stories. Some people share stories about themselves naturally, but sometimes you have to be a bit more direct ("how did you do that?"). As the saying goes, life's too short to experience everything ourselves. Learning other people's stories is one of the best ways to enhance your understanding of the world
Also, try to follow-up periodically. If someone mentions they like reading, you can send a note about a good book you came across..
Try to network with the recruiter/ HR person. Have them point you to who you should talk to based on what you're interested in (e.g. tax or audit or advisory). Make it more about quality rather than quantity i.e. try to build deeper connections rather than trying to network with as many as you can.
I hope this helps!
Great question! I think the first thing to remember is that many if not all of the professional accountants you are networking with have been in your position. Like you, they were also hoping to network and grow relationships with the people at the firms and companies they wanted to work with. I would ask them to talk about their experiences in the field and also advice they would give to you and others in your position.
If you get the opportunity to interview with or shadow any of the people you have networked, send them a thank you email or card. Showing your appreciation of their time and your interest in the firm they work at is a great way to say thanks and build your relationship with them!
I agree I think it's great you are already attending networking events. I think personally, some people like to get to know you, instead of the generic questions that a lot of students have. Once they get to know you, it'll open the door for other questions and form a more personal relationship, making you 'not easily forgettable'