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Let’s face it: CFOs are not the best networkers. Some of us are better than others, but for the most part we sit in our offices and manage numbers, strategy, administration, IT infrastructure and whatever else falls under our purview – responsibilities which seem to be growing every year. But the reality is that we all need to be great networkers.

continuous_executive_networkingThe average term for a CFO is five years. So if you become a CFO at 40 and retire at 65, you will be in the market for a new position four times over that time period. Unless you are a high profile CFO with an extremely impressive track record, you should consider some form of networking every week to ensure that you can manage the transitions along the way. Here is a four-step guide to manage continuous networking.
 

Step one:  Bolster your LinkedIn profile. You should have a very robust LinkedIn profile. Robust means that your profile strength should be the LinkedIn-designated “All Star” level. LinkedIn is the site of choice for recruiters, human resource professionals and active networkers looking to source connections. Building a robust profile means that you have good position descriptions, appropriate keywords and complete information. The best way to know if your profile is at the appropriate level is to type in your relevant position (i.e. CFO Digital Media) and see if you are in the top ten ranking profiles.

How do you get an “All Star” level distinction on LinkedIn? Spend the money on an expert who knows how to build the right profiles. It is not a hard task if you know what you are doing or have the patience to figure it out. The AESC’s BlueSteps executive career service team has experts who know how to get you to the top of the LinkedIn lists. Worth every cent.
 

Step two: set goals. I am very goal oriented, so success for me means setting goals or metrics for myself. For example, one of my goals is to have three networking touch points a week. What does that mean? It means anything from a breakfast with a past colleague to a CFO seminar to a quick touch base email to looking for and joining new groups to anything that constitutes a way to stay connected. By doing all these things over a period of time: you are staying relevant, staying informed, staying in touch and staying top of mind to your contacts – new and old.
 

Step three: Sign up online. Joining groups and attending seminars are an important way to stay current and relevant. There are many benefits:

  1. Peer to peer networking with senior finance executives
  2. Access to membership events, directories and news
  3. Access to peers with similar issues and challenges
  4. Keeping current through education, news and queries
     

Step four: Stay in touch. By following all these steps and staying relevant, you are exposing yourself to many other networks and opportunities. For example, through networking, I was introduced to an invite-only organization that collects and distributes curated C-suite opportunities. And separately, it is always pleasantly surprising to see how many referrals you will receive from other networkers or people you meet along the way.  

Continuous networking is one of the only ways to maintain your relevancy, profile and exposure. It keeps you current and makes those five-year transitions much more fluid and easy.
 

For more on this topic, register for BlueSteps’ upcoming free webinar: How to Network With Executive Search Consultants.

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