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Networking: Some Things Never Change

By Benjamin R. Mulling, CMA, CPA.CITP
August 4, 2015
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Ben_Mulling

When I graduated from college, I didn’t really understand networking or its benefits. Even when I began volunteering with IMA®, I did it to offer service and make a difference in my profession, never fully grasping how I could benefit from the relationships I made through these experiences.

 

Many Millennials say that the way we network has changed. They no longer enjoy the cocktail receptions or lunch programs that once were so popular. As a Millennial, I’ve disparaged these types of activities myself, claiming, as others have, that “It’s all done online these days.” To a certain extent, that’s correct. But what I’ve learned through my volunteer experience with IMA is that the best networking still occurs face to face. That’s where true relationships are born and fostered.

 

Looking at my own experience, I’ve found that I value my online contacts, yet I also have some that I rarely see or talk with. Many of us connect with others online, but I want you to ask yourself: How many of your online contacts do you talk to or engage with regularly? How many have you enjoyed dinner with, know personal facts about, or trust enough for career or professional advice? Probably very few. Most likely, your favorite contacts are people you meet with in person and engage with offline.

 

I’ve come to appreciate the irreplaceable value of face-to-face networking through attending IMA Global Board Meetings and our Annual and Student Leadership Conferences over the past several years. These experiences have driven home to me the importance of meeting and speaking with colleagues in the same physical space, not just over the phone or online.

 

Consider how much professional advice and learning you can gain from your face-to-face relationships. When I became a CFO seven years ago at age 28, it was a tough time for the global market. As a young CFO, I walked right into managing the finances during a financial crisis, and I leaned on my connections, especially experienced IMA members, for advice on how to handle certain situations, such as financial and personnel issues. Being able to tap that wealth of experience and knowledge provided a tremendous value for me that I never knew would come as a result of these relationships.

 

Fortunately, IMA offers many opportunities to help establish and build in-person connections: through our student chapters for on-campus initiatives, our global network of local and regional chapters and councils, our mentor programs, our Student Leadership Conference and Annual Conference & Expo, and numerous others. Take advantage of these opportunities, and don’t ignore what could be one of the most important parts of your career and personal development: face-to-face networking.

 

I welcome your comments at bmulling@imanet.org.

 

Benjamin R. Mulling, CMA, CPA.CITP, is Chair of the IMA Global Board of Directors and CFO of TENTE Casters, Inc. He also is a member of IMA’s Cincinnati North Chapter. Follow him on Twitter: @bmulling and LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/benmulling.
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