Networking is so much more than “working the room.” More than anything, networking is about relationship building. To help you get started, we’ve put together a list of ways to network in treasury and finance that includes in-person, online and group activities. Try them all out and see what works for you.
1. Network internally.
It’s important to connect with your colleagues, i.e., network internally. Why? There are a whole host of benefits including gaining opportunities to collaborate and share knowledge, finding out about job openings before they’re made public, potentially finding a mentor, and creating a greater sense of connection and belonging.
Also, if you’re wanting to make a career change or build your skill set, building a rapport with people in the department you want to move to is a really great way to create that opportunity. Ask to shadow someone or take on a small role in a project, anything to gain some experience and establish a connection.
Is there someone within your company you’d like to get to know better? Suggest a coffee chat where you can talk about the projects you are each working on. Once a dialogue has been established, be sure to pay attention and follow up on things they’ve mentioned. For example, the next time you see them, you can ask them how the project they had talked about is going. Little actions help to establish rapport by showing people you care and that they’ve been heard.
And be sure to take advantage of any learning opportunities your company offers, such as brown bag lunches, book clubs and mentoring.
2. Participate in the online conversation.
Another great way to network is through online conversations. Join groups on LinkedIn and follow organizations and people you admire. Offer your professional opinions, support and experience, and share content relevant to your profession.
If you’re an AFP practitioner member, you also have access to AFP Collaborate, a safe space, private community where you can discuss challenges and get perspectives from your practitioner peers.
3. Ask for a coffee chat or informational interview.
Within the treasury and finance profession, there are so many people with a variety of different skills and experiences to share. Reach out to people who work for organizations or companies you’re interested in, who have skills and accomplishments you admire, or who simply have a different perspective (e.g., the treasurer of a nonprofit versus the treasurer of a corporation). Ask them to meet you for coffee or for an informational interview. Stretch your mind and widen your network at the same time.
4. Join a roundtable.
Some professional organizations offer roundtable discussions on timely topics. One of the benefits of meeting people through a roundtable is that you don’t have to come up with a topic to discuss. The shared interest is already there through the topic of the roundtable.
At AFP, members can participate in virtual roundtable sessions where they can talk to their peers about issues and challenges they’re having, and hear how others have solved or are dealing with them. There’s a camaraderie to it that is incredibly valuable.
5. Attend a conference.
Attending a professional conference alongside many of your peers is an excellent way to create numerous connections within a few days’ time. Some of our long-time AFP conference attendees offered pro tips on how to make the most of your conference networking experience:
- Go through the list of conference attendees and add people you want to connect with to your list of contacts in the conference app.
- Look for organizations that are going to be attending, and if any spark your interest, check them against the attendee list for individuals you’d like to meet.
- Go through the conference agenda and identify smaller group discussions that would be meaningful for you, e.g., roundtables, receptions and lunches.
- Look at the speakers and mark those whose sessions you’re most interested in attending. Prepare for their session by learning about them and what they’re speaking about, then try to catch them after their presentation to ask smart follow-up questions — and perhaps make a connection.
There is no shortage of ways to expand your professional network, especially in the digital age. The main thing to keep in mind is that it’s all about connection. Genuine connections, even in our professional lives, are incredibly valuable. Not only do they open up opportunities for you down the line, but they also provide you with the opportunity to help others in meaningful ways.
The Arcade is sponsored by Workday. The Puppy Park is sponsored by Fidelity.