While it might seem like work is winding down, the festive season is possibly the busiest and best time of year for networking. We’re not just talking about office parties either. Many Accounting Industry bodies and associations, together with University Alumni, Business Chambers, and vendors, host events in December, often looking to leave a positive impression going into the new year. So, whether you’re actively looking for a new accounting job in Sydney, want to reconnect with people you have met in past years at these events or are just keen to expand your network, it makes sense to take advantage of these opportunities. While some of us are less natural networkers, there’s no doubt that networking is a necessary step for those that want to progress in their careers. With that in mind, here are our top tips from the Richard Lloyd Accounting Recruitment team to ensure you capitalise on the events during this festive season.
There is a great saying when it comes to networking: “It’s not about who you know, it’s about who knows you.” If done correctly, networking can build your professional brand (read more on this topic here) in a way that can work better for your career than simply attending conferences with your professional peers throughout the year.
We’ve all heard about the mystical “hidden job market”, essentially referring to the large percentage of roles that just don’t get publicly advertised. Your network (and a good accounting recruiter!) is the single most effective tool for getting access to this hidden world of accounting jobs. You never know; the person you are casually talking to could have, or know someone who has, that perfect vacancy for you. Conversely, if you’re a manager, talking to the right person at a party or event could fill that accounting vacancy you’ve been trying to hire for.
Networking is also a great way to open your mind to discovering or discussing new topics, approaches or technologies, enhancing your knowledge and giving you new ideas on how to solve problems.
While it may sound a little contrived, planning ahead and setting your objectives before the event is crucial to networking success. Decide on who you would like to meet (some Meetups have a registrations list, so you can see who is going to be there, or speakers you would like to meet) and set yourself a goal to seek out any specific individuals. However, it’s important to remember that it isn’t possible to meet everyone properly. Don’t attempt to be the social butterfly flitting from group to group, the quality of the connections you make is far more important than the quantity of them.
Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. It is easy after a few events to just gravitate towards the same people you have met previously and are now comfortable with. Try to avoid this and continue to increase your network and focus on meeting new people. A good way to do this is to approach people who are by themselves and seem a little uncomfortable; they are always grateful for another person to join them. Christmas parties are often great for these kinds of situations as people generally tend to be more jovial and open to talking with the holidays being just around the corner. At the other end of the spectrum, if there is a good conversation already in full flow, consider joining in.
When it comes to the conversation itself, invest yourself in the moment. Even if the topic may seem irrelevant, you never know what may eventuate. It’s always good advice to keep eye contact and present positive body language. If you do need to move on, wait for a lull in the conversation and politely excuse yourself, wishing them a good evening or a happy festive season.
While it is easy to just go with the flow and go from conversation to conversation, details and connections can be lost in a flurry of faces. If possible, make a few notes, even if it’s just on the back of someone’s business card, to help you remember the context and conversation the following day. This leads to one other really important factor, which is the follow-up. Making a connection is one thing, keeping and fostering that connection is imperative. This can be challenging when you meet someone at the end of the year when the holidays inevitably prevent both parties from following up. Making that effort to connect on LinkedIn, Twitter or over coffee, can really improve your professional network.
One of the top tips from our team is to always make the extra effort to attend any post-event activities. This is because people are generally more relaxed and open to conversation in these kinds of environments.
If you’re a little more adventurous, then actually speaking at events or volunteering your time to organise them can add a lot of value. If you’re a speaker at the event, it makes it easier to network, as a lot of the time people will (hopefully) want to come and talk to you. If you volunteer you’ll likely get more time with the organisers who may know of opportunities, or at least will act as good conduits to others at the events.
Networking can be an awkward and tricky thing. If you’d like to skip the hard work and get direct access to the “Hidden Job Market” in Sydney, feel free to contact us here at Richard Lloyd Accounting Recruitment.
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Further Information: Why December is the Best Time for Job Seeking