Tune into a sports or movie awards ceremony, and you'll hear winners thanking those who helped them succeed. Great accomplishments are rarely achieved alone, even in business, and mentors can make a huge difference in your career. If you're in an accounting position, you can find a mentor by networking, seeking educational opportunities, and reaching out to professional organizations.
Chris and Natasha Ashton, who founded a pet insurance company, met their mentor through persistence. The couple reached out to Vernon Hill and asked for a lunch meeting, even after being denied admission to a speaking event featuring the bank executive. Later, the relationship between the Ashtons and Hill developed into mentorship as Hill helped the couple launch a successful business. Accounting professionals can learn from the Ashtons. Mentors aren't always going to appear directly in the path of your career. Don't be afraid to attend seminars, introduce yourself to experienced accountants, or invite a respected coworker or community professional to lunch. By building a network within the accounting community, you increase the likelihood of finding mentors who mesh well with your personal and professional style and are willing to provide coaching and assistance.
Many professionals find mentors before they begin their first post-college job. If you're in school, make sure to connect with professors, staff members, and other students. Participate in campus organizations, especially those related to accounting or finance. Developing early contacts in the industry not only helps you find suitable mentors but also makes it easier to find a job. Individuals in an accounting position that didn't require college or technical training, or those who have already graduated, can still use educational opportunities to find mentors. Local schools often offer outreach programs or banquets for professionals in the area. You can attend seminars and workshops, and make it a point to get to know the workshop leader and ask if it's okay to stay in touch. Remember that mentorship relationships usually develop over time, so getting to know people is important.
Joining or reaching out to professional associations is another way to meet other accounting professionals and develop relationships with mentors. You might consider membership in the American Accounting Association or the National Society of Accountants. Both organizations offer workshops and conferences, which are perfect for networking. Other benefits of membership include industry-related publications, resource libraries, and advocacy. Accounting professionals who want to launch their own business can contact a local SCORE office or visit score.org to sign up for a free mentoring session with an industry expert.
Finding accounting mentors may seem like a lot of work. Getting the inside scoop from individuals who've already learned from mistakes will save you from wasting time and opportunity in the future. Start reaching out to other professionals to build your network and find a mentor.
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