5 Networking Tips Anyone Can Use
January 14, 2020
Engaging in small talk at a networking event can be enough to intimidate anyone. Isabella Brilliant, EisnerAmper HR specialist and Friends of the Firm administrator gives us her five proven tips for successful networking—along with a successful real-life example. As an added bonus, Isabella gives us an update on the Friends of the Firm recruiting program.
DP: I must admit, personally, networking and all of the related small talk that goes along with it, that's something that paralyzes me, and I don't think I'm alone in that regard. What is it that you think intimidates people so much when it comes to networking?
IB: It's a lot of things. Naturally, as humans, we're all a little bit afraid of rejection. We're afraid of walking up to someone we don't know and being shut down.
IB: I mean personally or professionally, that's a scary thing. Maybe we're all a little bit worried about not having anything interesting to say or not being able to add value to another person. But once we move past that and have the faith in ourselves that we have things to offer to the world and recognize that potential, networking becomes exponentially easier.
DP:Obviously networking is as much if not more an art than it is a science, and certainly everyone has his or her own networking style. What works for you?
IB: I had to learn how to be a good networker very quickly when I transitioned from the firm's tax group to human resources and then to Friends of the Firm. I was moving from using a lot of technical skills to using a lot of soft skills, essentially overnight. Thankfully I've been able to compile some really helpful tips that I've picked up from my mentors and just from trial and error that could help anybody, especially someone who isn't necessarily a natural at networking.
The first tip I have is to have a plan. Determine what types of individuals you want to network with and why. The second tip is to listen more than you talk in your interactions.
IB: You can't add value successfully if you spend the majority of your time talking. Make a conscious effort to listen.
DP: Makes sense.
IB: The third is networking relationships are a living thing. Nurture them, cultivate them, treat them as something that grows and expands over time.
IB: Everyone's super busy and has a lot going on. So take the time and set reminders to check in with your contacts and just keep the relationship alive and from fizzling out. The fourth one I have is reflect on how you can add value to those with whom you're trying to network, without necessarily expecting anything in return from them. And then my last tip is to just be patient. The best and most lucrative relationships do not happen overnight. They take time to build. And it's really important to not give up on relationships too quickly because everyone has their own pace in which they establish relationships.
DP: All good tips, and something that we can all benefit from. To help put it into practice for our listeners, give us a real world example where these came into play, the situation, the outcome, so forth.
IB: Yeah, absolutely. I went to an event in May of 2019 at Temple University. We, EisnerAmper, attended this event to promote our diversity and inclusion initiatives as well as to scope out some talent we normally wouldn't find in our recruiting channels. So that was our plan.
IB:While we were there, I met a woman that I felt super connected to instantly. We just had a really good thing going right from the start. For privacy purposes, we can just call her Jane.
IB: So Jane and I had a lot in common and she was super interested in potentially making the jump to public accounting after working in industry for a number of years. So that was definitely not traditional for our recruiting channels. After we spoke at the event, I gave her my contact info and I encouraged her to reach out to me with any questions or just to continue our conversation.
Jane, at the event, did the majority of the talking. All I did was try to be supportive and lend an ear and that really started our relationship. Fast forward to August, I checked in with Jane to see how her summer was going and if she was still interested in public accounting. These little check-ins are how I kept our relationship alive. So Jane replied that she was still interested in making the jump to public accounting and still interested in the position. I invited her to an event in our Philadelphia office where she had the opportunity to meet some of our EisnerAmper employees and learn about our service lines in a more informal setting, rather than interviewing right off the bat. Jane accepted my invitation, and at the event we continued chatting and getting to know each other.
Fast forward to October, I checked in once more and offered Jane an opportunity to interview for a position at EisnerAmper. I reflected and determined that Jane would make a great addition to our group and would help our team grow in Philadelphia. That was the value add to both of us. And then as of November, Jane is currently an employee of EisnerAmper and doing great. She's happy and we're happy to have her. It took me about six months of developing and cultivating that relationship before Jane and I could add any value to each other. But I'm really glad I stuck with it because she's amazing. It just proves that being patient is really key.
DP:And that checked off all five boxes that you mentioned earlier.
DP: I know you're heavily involved with Friends of the Firm. What's going on there?
IB: We keep ourselves very busy and have had an extremely successful year. In fact, our number of placements have increased by over 300% in one year. So we are proud of that. Other than that, Nkrumah and I are looking forward to helping even more members secure their dream jobs in 2020.
We also have a lot of Friends of the Firm events from presentations about hot topics to general networking to CFO round tables. We have a lot of variety in our programs and try to host them every month or every other month, depending on schedules.
If you're interested in a future event or joining Friends of the Firm or just networking with us, feel free to reach out to Nkrumah or myself. You can find that at eisneramper.com/FOF. We're excited to keep moving and grooving in 2020.
DP: Great. Check out one of their events because they are fun and they could lead to that dream job that Isabella mentioned. Well Isabella, thanks for your time and this valuable information.
IB: Dave, thanks so much for having me.
DP: And thank you for listening to the Friends of the Firm podcast as part of the EisnerAmper podcast series. Visit eisneramper.com for more information on this and a host of other topics, and join us for our next EisnerAmper podcast when we get down to business.