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The Well-Rounded Networker

January 2009 (SmartPros) Knowing how to cultivate a deep professional network is an invaluable skill for any accounting and finance professional. After all, the more relationships you establish, the greater your chances of finding out about job openings and other information that can help you advance your career.

The key is to use a multipronged approach to expand your roster of contacts. Following are tips for becoming a well-rounded networking wiz:

Use the Web wisely. The Internet offers a convenient way for professionals to network around the clock. Online networking — connecting with others through networking sites, forums and message boards — provides opportunities to “meet” prospective employers or revive contacts with whom you’ve lost touch.

But regardless of whether you’re reestablishing ties with former colleagues and classmates or reaching out to hiring managers, it’s critical to display a professional demeanor. Simply put, manners still matter.

When writing to someone you don’t know, for example, address the person by name, introduce yourself, explain how you found him or her, and note your reason for touching base. Avoid using an overly casual tone, web lingo and emoticons. And always take the time to proofread your message for spelling and grammatical errors.

Get personal. While online networking can help you establish connections quickly, it’s important to solidify relationships through face-to-face interaction. When geography permits, build rapport by meeting with key contacts for lunch or coffee on occasion. Also, raise your profile by joining professional associations and attending industry conferences, seminars and training sessions. Whether you’re trying to secure a new job or networking within your own firm, your efforts will be more effective if others can gain a first-hand understanding of who you are and what you bring to the table.

As the saying goes, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Ultimately, the most well-connected accounting and finance professionals are those who forge and maintain relationships both on and offline.

For more advice on management and career issues, listen to The Management Minute, Robert Half’s podcast series at

ACCOUNTEMPS is the world’s first and largest temporary staffing service specializing in the placement of accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. The company has more than 360 offices worldwide and offers online job search services at




2009 SmartPros Ltd. All rights reserved.

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