By AFWA National President, Karyn Hartke, CPA
The holiday season is the time to reflect and focus on those closest to you. I started my term as AFWA National President writing about family and who inspires me. And since then, I’ve had a number of opportunities to connect with those loved ones. In the past few months, I have attended both a family funeral and my niece’s wedding. I have seen aunts, uncles, cousins and friends who I haven’t seen in years. And this weekend I’ll travel to Pennsylvania to celebrate with my son and his future bride as they take their vows and become husband and wife.
Family has been defined as “the people who accept you no matter who you are.” Sometimes family is related to us by blood and other times through a deep connection. As 2018 closes and we begin to reflect on the year gone by, I challenge you to think beyond experience and reflect on people. Who is new in your life? Who has supported you through challenges? Who has encouraged you to reach for that stretch goal? Who has had your back no matter what?
Our “network” needs to be an intentional decision. LinkedIn has been a great resource in collecting our connections but is it tracking how often we have substantive conversations? AFWA has been a great way for me to build my network in the Jacksonville, Florida area. I moved to Northeast Florida from Illinois about twelve years ago. I didn’t know anyone in the Accounting and Finance field in my new home state. A recruiter helped place me with a large local firm after a few interviews.
I was encouraged by the marketing director in my firm to map out my network and create a spreadsheet. As a result of this exercise, I realized that there was not an organization in my area that focused on female accounting and financial professionals. That was the beginning of chartering an AFWA chapter in Jacksonville. My co-workers at the time joined with me in contacting our connections and ten years later we are still friends even though we all work for different employers.
One of the first women outside of my firm that I reached out to was a partner in a CPA firm where I had not been offered a position. Yes, I was turned down for the job but we became friends through AFWA and a few years ago, I started working with her professionally.
As we look to 2019, I encourage you to map out your network and track how often you are getting together. Look to resources on how to build your network. Make sure that you are building relationships not just accumulating connections.