When it comes to finding the right accounting or finance job in Chicago, you cannot rely completely on your education, experience and skill set. The city’s recovering economy has created too much competition. To combat this, join Chicago-area networking groups and professional associations to align with industry leaders and hiring managers.
Networking groups and professional associations foster relationships—and jobs.
Networking groups are diverse, both in the style and types of attendees. Some are casual, whereas others are formal. Some are national, whereas others are regional. Some are run by large organizations, while individuals run others. While the list of differences is lengthy, all networking groups share a common goal: to bring business people together to create connections and share ideas. These connections and ideas can lead to a wide range of effects, from nothing to something significant (like your dream job). Regardless, networking is the cause of the effects.
Professional associations are similar to networking groups with some key differences. First, they are often focused on a like group of professionals. For instance, maybe only accounting professionals, or CFOs. Networking groups tend to be broader—open to everyone. Second, professional associations are not solely about creating connections and ideas; they are often involved with the politics of their field, from education to ethics to setting standards. Even so, professional groups are still a way to connect with people that could benefit your career.
It is vital to approach your activity in Chicago networking groups and professional associations with a plan of action. Assuming your networking goal is to create valuable connections that could land you a top job, here are five networking tips that will help you accomplish your goal:
- Find a Balance
Striking a balance is important in many aspects of life, including networking. You should be casual, yet remain professional. Networking is social; it is usually at night, out of the office and in a relaxed setting. Therefore, be yourself and blend in. However, do not go overboard; remain professional. This balance will go a long way at showcasing your social skills and professionalism.
- Be Engaged
Conversation, whether it is work related or not, is constant at networking events. As you meet new people and converse with familiar colleagues, always remain engaged. Show that you have a genuine interest in both learning about others and helping others learn about you.
- Express Interest
Show enthusiasm and respect for your career and current position, but express your interest in moving up the corporate ladder, especially when conversing with a hiring manager or leader at a company in which you have interest. This subtly planted seed could lead to more serious conversation in the future.
- Embrace LinkedIn
Networking events or professional association meetings may be weekly or monthly, and LinkedIn can bridge the gaps. Carry the personal connections you make in person to the digital world. It is a convenient way to keep in touch, and it is an effective way to share your resume.
- Be Persistent
Do not expect your attendance at 1-2 Windy City networking events to land you the ideal accounting or finance job. Nothing happens overnight, but persistent attendance can help you build relationships that will undoubtedly accelerate your career trajectory.
Where should you begin? Here are several well-respected Chicago networking groups or organizations that offer networking events:
- City Club of Chicago
- Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce
- Chicago Latino Network
- Business Network Chicago
- Chicago After Work
- Professional Women’s Club of Chicago
Here are some renowned Chicago accounting and finance professional associations: