10 April 2014
Whether you are a recent graduate looking for your first opportunity or a seasoned professional looking to expand your network of professional contacts, attending a networking or industry event can prove to be a valuable experience if approached strategically. Throughout the professional world the word “networking” is used quite frequently, but can be applicable to many different contexts: career fairs, happy hour mixers, professional conferences, alumni events, etc. To help navigate your next networking event, here are a number of tips to keep in mind. Do Your Research. Though networking events may be intimidating, one of the best tips for success is to be knowledgeable about what’s happening in your industry and who is attending. Casual conversation is a great ice breaker, but in order to take advantage of the event, it’s important to have some professional talking points in mind about who you are, what you do, and industry insight and news. Fortunately, before most networking events, a list of the participants (companies, executives, sponsors, etc.) that will attend is often provided to participants. As a result, you can use this list to learn more about the attendees. Furthermore, doing background research may add more depth to your conversations. For example, making a reference to an article that featured one of the executives attending, or discussing a recent accomplishment in a company where someone works can create a better opportunity to build a connection because it shows you are a well-informed professional that stays up to date with current events. Use Your Time Efficiently. It is important to go to each networking event with a clear goal in mind. In other words, decide who you need to network with in order to have the best take away possible. The first step to efficient networking is to start with a foundation to build concrete relationships. This foundation comes in the form of casual conversation. You don’t want to begin the conversation sounding overly aggressive or too demanding. However, the key to concrete relationship building is communicating with a clear purpose. To avoid aimless chatting, we suggest trying to direct your conversations strategically. For instance, if you are trying to gain contacts in a new industry, after making small talk and feeling out the conversation’s tone (professional/casual), you can decide to say something like, “Have you managed to meet anyone in the ___ industry, I’ve been trying to break into it for the longest time,” to respectfully let the person know you are actively trying to build more contacts at this event in a limited amount of time. This will not only allow you to enjoy certain conversations with new contacts, but also make the most efficient use of your time. Quality over Quantity. At the core, the purpose of most networking events is to meet others who share at least one of your professional interests and build a bigger network! But, not everyone at a networking event is there for the same reason, thus, it is important to ask questions to gauge how your conversation can be the best use of your professional gains. While it may seem like the best idea to talk to as many people and give out as business cards as possible, this may in fact hinder your ability to have in-depth discussions or conversations. Therefore, to gain the most from a networking event we suggest trying to have deeper conversations with fewer people. Yes, fewer people—quality over quantity! Focusing on building genuine connections will make your questions and insight much deeper, which will help you leave a long-lasting impression, making it easier to connect with the person in the future. In the end, the most valuable conversations are those that have the potential to serve as stepping stones for a long-lasting connection. Be Positive. There’s no easier way to exclude yourself from a crowd during a networking event than to have a negative attitude. Networking events are a way to build on your professional aspirations—you can catch up with alumni, move your job hunt forward, or even learn about a new opportunity you might not have heard of otherwise. Some helpful tips to ensure a positive attitude at an event may involve initiating conversation, presenting thought-provoking questions, or telling a good joke. Be Confident. For many people, it’s not natural for them to be in a setting where they don’t know anyone and need to start a conversation with the hopes of eventually gaining something out of it. Luckily, your preparation beforehand will help to ease any nervousness you may feel since you know exactly what you are looking for from this event. Going into conversations with well-thought out talking points will give you the confidence you need to make it a more productive event. Follow Up. After a networking event, one of the best ways to build on the conversations you shared is to follow up with your new contacts. A “Thank You” note and a personalized LinkedIn invitation are two steps you can take to build on the relationship. By all means, leave the door open for further communication in the near future and occasionally send a message to show you are not just interested in their immediate skills or services, but in a two-sided relationship built on mutual respect.
10 April 2014
Author: The ExecuSearch Group
April is in full swing, busy season has passed, and the need for hiring internal audit professionals has never been greater. In fact, The Execu|Search Group’s Accounting/Finance staffing professionals are observing unprecedented growth within the Accounting industry across various sectors, with record demand for experienced professionals outshining pre-recession levels. Specifically, hiring is on an exponential climb for Internal Auditors. This is no secret, considering that many organizations—specifically, financial services firms—are working at a feverish pace to build a flawless system of checks and balances to ensure they comply with laws such as Dodd Frank, the Basel regulations, the Volcker Rule, and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regulations. In fact, internal audit alone currently makes up 17% of The Execu|Search Group’s Accounting/Finance active openings across all industries. According to Gary Grossman, President of The Execu|Search Group’s Full-Time recruitment division, this means there is no better time for internal audit professionals to explore the marketplace. “Internal Audit professionals should know that their skills are quickly becoming some of the most in-demand in the industry,” he says. “Whereas needs for internal audit skills and experience were uncommon just a few years ago, before regulatory compliance was a consequential issue, they are now vital to all government-regulated organizations.” With this jump in demand, however, comes a challenge: internal audit wasn’t a very popular career path a few years ago, and as a result, there isn’t enough talent to go around. Therefore, candidates with this highly-sought skill set can now enjoy a new level of selectivity in their job search; rather than feeling pressured to accept offers immediately, they can now weigh out their options a bit more thoroughly before making a decision. In addition, employers will be willing to pay more for their services in order to beat the competition for top talent. Complying with regulations is becoming a more pressing priority than ever, so companies, both large and small, have ample internal audit opportunities at every level. We encourage professionals to capitalize on it while the market is enjoying such growth.