Q. I have recently relocated to the USA after getting married, and have lost most of my educational, professional and most personal networks. I’ve started playing some team sports locally and also engaged in some professional development, but I was interested in advice to build out my network, specifically in the accounting industry.
A. Congratulations on your recent marriage, and welcome to the USA. I hope you have long and successful relationships with your new spouse and new country! A move like this does have a significant impact on your network, however your world is still within reach due to technological improvements like Skype, email, and low international calling rates.
Building a network should be a goal of every job seeker, every new college graduate, and all professionals who hope to further their careers. Many job seekers regret that they let their networks lapse as they worked with their heads down, paying little attention to maintaining or developing their network. Almost all successful job seekers commit to maintaining their networks due to all the time, energy, and effort they put into creating a highly effective group of contacts.
First start with LinkedIn. Develop your profile, and link to all of your pre-move contacts. Review the groups available from your educational institutions, and professional organizations you might have been part of and join any appropriate ones. Your college or university may have subgroups based on geography. If they don’t, consider starting one. There may be more of your academic compatriots here than anyone is aware.
Review new regional groups you might be interested in as well. There are many accounting and finance related groups of professionals, and many have local meetings which you should attend.
Share an update on LinkedIn highlighting what you are looking for regarding accounting connections in your preferred geographic area. Ask your personal contacts to link, in addition to the new sports colleagues you have. This will help you find out more about the professional lives of your teammates. Many professionals neglect connecting to a broad range of people, yet reaching beyond professionals in your industry alone often leads to the best connections who offer information, insight and introductions not as easily available elsewhere. All of these connections will give you a great base on which to build your local network.
Also look at any potential cultural groups – LinkedIn and locally – whose members are from your country of origin. Many cultural groups offer local social and professional events and your local network can continue to grow in this way. The common bond you share with participants typically motivates group members to try and help you develop a network who can support your career aspirations.
You mentioned professional development activities, which are a great way to find out more about the local activities in a profession. Make an effort to meet the members of the board of directors of any professional associations. They are typically very knowledgeable about career opportunities and considered leaders in their fields. If the activities are academic, connect with the faculty for their ideas about new contacts, and to see if they know of the most effective job sites for your areas of interest.
I know your spouse will be eager to help, and adding that network to your own will also be an effective way to expand your connections. There are always more people to connect with and new ways to make it happen, so just keep pushing forward and you’ll have a great network in no time.