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Building networks for finance professionals

“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you are, whoever you are, you need one!” —Jane Howard

 

BUSINESS networking has emerged as one of the “must have” soft skills necessary for finance professionals to succeed in the com­petitive marketplace of today.

Given the unprecedented “equalization’” of global skills and competencies, and the competitiveness of the fi­nance job in the marketplace, one aspect where finance profession­als contribute uniquely is their distinctive professional network, the “informal chain of contacts usable for mutual assistance and sup­port.” In today’s world, it is not just “what you know” and “where you learned it,” but also “who you know” that counts increasingly in one’s professional progress.

 

Why do finance professionals need to network?

VENDA-RAYE JOHNSON, author of the book Effective Networking says it best as: “We live the age of knowledge and change. The right informa­tion, the best resources and the strongest support are needed to keep focused in the midst of change. Effective networking helps us keep our balance and perspective in a world of change.”

Finance professionals benefit from networking in myriad ways, and some key advantages are:

1. Access to information, ideas and contacts

Through a network of contacts, finance professionals can have access to far more people than they can reach on their own. By de­veloping and then staying in touch with contacts in the government, regulatory bodies, professional institutions, competitors, customers and service providers, one is able to have greater access to informa­tion, ideas and contacts.

2. Opportunities (job, career, business, personal)

The people in one’s network expand one’s scope and outreach, cre­ating new avenues and links to new opportunities, both at the personal and professional level. Reputations precede people and networks help propagate positive perceptions across people, companies, industries and even countries.

3. Results and accomplishments

Your network enhances and expands your results and accomplish­ments. By working together effectively with others, obtaining speedy, useful information and opportunities, you can accomplish more than you could accomplish by yourself.

4. Friendships and professional relationships

Some of the people you connect with through networking can po­tentially become great friends and powerful professional allies. Through networking, one develops partners and advocates and a support system that is as committed to your success as you are.

 

Where do finance professionals network?

IN their book Make Your Contacts Count, Ann Bayber and Lyne Waymon identify three key platforms where networks can be built, outside the immediate zone of contacts:

• Make the most of memberships

Joining organizations and actively participat­ing in them is the best way to come in contact with a multitude of people in the finance profession. In the Philippines the national-level association for finance professionals is the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (Finex). Finex provides finance professionals a platform to stay informed, build relationships and participate in advocacy, not available in any other forum.

At the international level, an organization that can bring unprecedented global networking and information opportunities at the door of finance professionals is the International Association of Financial Executives Institutes (IAFEI).

IAFEI is a private nonprofit and nonpolitical international associa­tion, which (as its name suggests) is an international association of finance associations—a “federation of federations.”

Along with the financial executives institutes of 11 other countries, Finex shares the honor of being one of the founders of IAFEI in the year 1969, and is active in IAFEI’s committees, congresses and advocacies. As members of Finex, professionals in the Philippines have immediate access to the networks and opportunities of IAFEI, including informa­tion access, global networks and opportunities to participate in global congresses and advocacy.

• Connect at conventions

An excellent way of widening one’s circle of contacts is local and international conventions. Professionals must actively participate in conventions to benefit from information interaction and inspiration. IAFEI will hold its 44th World Congress from October 15 to 17, at the Shangri-La Hotel in Makati City, to be attended by a number of delegates from nations across the world, thereby providing vast networking op­portunities to finance professionals. This year’s IAFEI World Congress theme is “Global Recovery Amidst Reforms.”

• Plug into technology

With the advent of computer applications and Internet-based tools and web sites, contact information can now be organized and developed via special interest web sites, e-mail access and Web-based programs.

As a way of life, networking incorporates attitude, awareness and action. You can be very aware of people and opportunities, and yet it is only when you take action to bring those people and op­portunities together that results happen. Remember, “you don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines. You make progress by implementing ideas.”

 

Dr. Conchita L. Manabat is the president of the Development Center for Finance and is a member of the Consultative Advisory Group for the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants and the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board representing the Asian Financial Executives Institutes. She is a past chairman of the International Associa­tion of Financial Executives Institutes, where she now serves as chairman of its Advisory Council.

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