Managing your professional network can be a challenge, but there are several tools available to members of the CFA community,
Building your network with the CFA community
With more than 120,000 global CFA members, 12,000 CFA UK members, and a great number of CFA Program candidates, the CFA network is sizeable. So how can you develop a relevant and manageable network within this community? Start with these activities:
- Volunteer for CFA UK – not only do you meet interesting contacts, you are also in a position to demonstrate your knowledge and leadership.
- Attend events – take advantage of your common experience and interest in the topic presented to strike up conversations. If you’re shy, arrive early and connect with the other early-birds. This way groups form around you as opposed to you trying to cut into groups.
- Go online – between the CFA Institute member directory and LinkedIn, there are many ways to connect with fellow members, charterholders and candidates. Go a step beyond just connecting, try engaging. Participate in discussions. Ask and answer questions.
Managing your network
You can’t gain the maximum benefits from networking if you don't attend to your network. Managing your network is what ensures your contacts will be eager to hear from you and assist you when you need them. It is what allows you to respond to your contacts’ needs in turn. Consider these strategies for managing your network:
- Be organised – keep a personal database of contacts where you track changes to their contact details, employment details, family details (if appropriate), interests in common, and the nature of your last interaction.
- Stay in touch – even if it’s just once or twice a year, contact each individual in your network regularly. If you aren’t sure you have anything interesting to say or share, simply ask how things are on their end.
- Make introductions – introduce your contacts to one another, especially where you see possibilities for synergy.
- Express appreciation – always remember to say ‘thank you’. Thank contacts for their time, their information, their correspondence, their advice, and their assistance.
Calling on your network during a career transition
When the time comes to call upon your network for help it's important to be thoughtful as well as clear and direct in what you ask of your contacts. Reserve asking for action that requires your contact to spend their social capital as a last step. Instead, focus on asking for the following:
- Ask for information.
- Ask for advice and feedback.
- Ask for introductions to others who can provide information and advice.