5 Tips for Your Next Networking Event

As the leader of IMA’s Annual Conference & Expo, I oversee the robust 3.5-day program that includes more than 50 educational sessions, a variety of networking opportunities, “meet and greets” with keynote speakers, and other special attendee events. An important value of our conference, or any in-person business event, is the opportunity to network with like-minded professionals in our field.

If you’re uncomfortable by the idea of networking and approaching people you don’t know, here are some tips you can use at your next conference or in-person business event.

1.    If offered, attend the orientation session for first-time attendees. This will acquaint you with the event’s agenda as well as other attendees in the same position as you. When the time is right, introduce yourself to others.  Some “ice breaking” tips include sharing your name, where you’re from, where you work, and your role. Then ask others those questions, listening carefully for commonalities and differences in your backgrounds. Oftentimes, further conversation occurs naturally after this point and first-timers frequently plan to connect again during or after the event.

2.    Before or after a presentation, start a conversation with someone sitting nearby about the presentation topic. Start out by introducing yourself and asking about his/her interest in the session. If you have specific questions or insights about the session, offer that as further information, or ask how the session relates to his/her job responsibilities or career aspirations.  meeting presenter

3.    After a session that sparks your interest, introduce yourself to the presenter and ask specific questions regarding the concepts covered or how you can obtain more information. Offer your business card so that you can continue sharing material on the topic.

4.    During networking events such as “meet and greets,” group meals, or cocktail parties, seek out individuals who are standing alone, who you haven’t met, or who you’ve met in a prior session. Besides introducing yourself, inquire what sessions he/she has participated in, what his/her impressions were, and what he/she has learned. Share your thoughts also.

5.    Small group activities like conversational roundtables or exhibitor showcases allow for additional one-on-one time with other attendees as well as opportunities to meet with exhibitors to learn about their services. In addition to the above examples, other conversation starters include inquiring about new industry or regulatory events, discussing work challenges you may be experiencing, or learning more about the organization hosting the event to better understand other services of interest to you.

Make It Count

When you feel the conversation has ended, offer to connect on LinkedIn or exchange Businessmen exchanging business cardsbusiness cards. And don’t forget to follow up! Starting and sustaining a conversation with business professionals in your industry is an important way to grow, build your self-confidence, and expand your career horizons. So go ahead and mingle on!

To jumpstart building your networking skills, join us at IMA’s Annual Conference & Expo held in Las Vegas on June 18-22, 2016. Register now for your chance to network with the profession’s top thought leaders and professional colleagues.

Written by Debbie Warner, CPLP

Related Articles
7 Conversation Starters Better Than ‘What Do You Do?’ — And 7 That Are Even WorseForbes
Building Effective LeadersStrategic Finance

How You Can Become an Influencer

As IMA’s President and CEO, I take pride in the organization’s global recognition as a leader in the accounting and finance profession. I believe that to be successful in business, you must be an inspiring leader and set a positive example for others in your business and industry – to be an influencer. Influencing others takes many shapes, and it is an attribute not just reserved for the “top person.” Here are a few tips to stand out as an influencer:

Know the Subject Matterpendulum
One way to become an influencer is to be credible, to be technically competent, and to be a master at whatever you do. That means keeping up with the latest trends and sharing knowledge with the people around you. To signal this competence, consider earning a certification, like the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant). Certified professionals have earned a mark of distinction and are trusted business advisors within their businesses. They also set the standard for others around them and are always working on continuous improvement – in their careers, businesses, and personal lives.

Commit to On-Going Learning and Growth
Being an influencer also means you are committed to continuous learning and growth, including on-going continuing education requirements as part of the commitment to your certification. This enhances your credibility as an influencer because it shows you are committed to not only staying current but also staying ahead, enabling you to provide relevant and, hopefully inspiring, advice.

Become a Mentor
Mentoring is another way you can influence others – whether you’re advising your peers, young professionals just starting their careers, or students via a college campus group (such as IMA’s network of student chapters or mentoring program). Sharing your knowledge with and guiding others is a great way to build your influence to nurture and develop great leaders of the future.

Listen Carefully
As a leader in your business, you must ensure you listen carefully and empathetically to your employees and peers. A good influencer doesn’t just hear what people say but listens to their advice and guidance in order to lead better. Influencing, much like mentoring, is a two-way street with mutual learning and growth for both parties. Be open to being an inspiring influencer and even an inspired “influencee” (yes, a new word!).

Engage imask2n Fierce Conversations
You will enhance your credibility and value as an influencer if you commit to a culture of challenge and engage in fierce conversations – avoiding artificial harmony at one extreme or personal attacks at the other, but rather embracing honest, genuine, and head-on conversations to solve issues. (Read Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott – this is one of my favorite books and has taught me a lot!)

Be an Influencer
IMA has set the tone in our industry by releasing timely research via the IMA Research Foundation, thought-provoking magazine articles via Strategic Finance and Management Accounting Quarterly, and educational webinars and courses to supplement CPE requirements for certified professionals. I will continuously work toward making IMA a strong influencer around the world to enrich careers, organizations, and the public interest.

Share your stories of how you’ve influenced others in the comments below.

Written by Jeff Thomson, CMA, CAE
Follow me on Twitter @ima_JeffThomson

Related Articles

“Jeff Thomson Named Among Accounting Today’s ‘Top 100 Most Influential People in Accounting’” – IMA Online News

“How India Influenced Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg” – The Wall Street Journal, India