Building a professional network is one of the most critical things to do if you want to develop your accounting or finance career. Especially for beginners, building a network can be intimidating. It is hard to know where to start. One of the first things you should do is find tools you can use to expand your network. Here are four tips that can make the process much easier.

  1. LinkedIn

    LinkedIn is the most well-known and the most popular professional networking plat-form. With over 300 million users around the world, you’ll have no trouble finding friends and colleagues on LinkedIn. You will also have no trouble finding people in your field that are near you. It can also be used as an online resume. Additionally, it is a great way for companies and peers to find you, as long as you have a profile that is complete and up to date.

  2. Professional Organizations

    Joining an association aimed at accounting and finance professionals is a great way to meet new people in your field. Professional associations often hold career development and networking events both locally and nationally. Some professional organization you should consider joining include the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Missouri Society of Certified Public Accountants, the National Association of Black Accountants, the Missouri Society of Accountants, the American Payroll Association and the Accounting and Financial Women’s Alliance.

  3. Network at Work

    When we network, we usually focus on professionals who are outside of the work-place. Yet, building enduring relationships with your colleagues is essential to successful networking. Your co-workers often have networks of their own and can introduce you to new people. Plus, colleagues come and go. You want to build relation-ships that will endure when they leave or when you move on.

  4. MeetUp

    MeetUp is a great networking tool to connect with other financial analysts, account-ants, tax professionals, controllers, etc. You can join groups with others who have similar interests as you and attend events with local finance professionals. You can use these events to connect with other professionals, establish your reputation, and develop your career. MeetUp has groups in most major cities (including St. Louis), and you can also start your own group, which is an excellent way to hone your leadership skills.

  5. Work with a Recruiter

    If you’re trying to build your network, working with a recruiter who specializes in ac-counting and finance is an excellent starting point. Recruiters have worked with many different companies and accounting professionals. Not only are they in tune with the job market, they have expansive networks. So, even if you’re not actively looking for a new job, a specialized recruiter can be an invaluable tool from a networking perspective and they are good to know for when you need them in the future.

Building a professional network can be fun but maintaining the connections you make can sometimes be challenging. These tools and tips will help you connect with people who share your goals and professional interests and help make it easier for you to reach your career objectives.

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