The Keys to Networking: Using Social Media

barbara mckinzie

This is part three (and the final post) in my mini-series on the keys to successful networking. In my last two posts, I covered body language and alternative places to network. This month, we’re going to cover networking using social media. This is a new and ever-evolving topic within the business world. Social media’s impact on effectiveness in networking is one of more glaring obvious ways that technology has changed how we communicate. Networking via social media may seem a bit foreign and uncomfortable for those who haven’t grown up with social media profiles, but if leveraged correctly, social media marketing can be incredibly effective. Here are a few rules to keep in mind when exploring the world of social….networking.


Find (Linkedin) Groups That Match Your Interests

LinkedIn is one of the most powerful (if not the most powerful) professional networking platforms available right now.  Everything that LinkedIn offers as a service provides an opportunity to make important connections with other professionals both inside and outside of your field. Many LinkedIn groups offer career-related conversation threads where professionals exchange ideas, questions, and media with one another. Find groups that make sense for you to join and then engage. Remember, networking isn’t only for someone looking for a job. You should always be looking to make meaningful connections, as a strong network is key for creating professional opportunities for yourself.

Tip: LinkedIn Groups are not the only groups that can yield great networking opportunities. Check out interest groups on Twitter and Facebook as well. You never know what you might find.


Engage With Authors & Creators of Content You Like

It’s a great move to determine which thought leaders and social influencers you think would be the best for your to converse with.

Please immediately note that this does not mean to ask for a favor over social media. When I say engage, I mean that you should take a moment to comment on articles that they post, or starting/joining a twitter exchange about a topic they are writing about. Best case scenario is that you create a meaningful rapport with the creator, and it becomes more of a legitimate professional relationship. If that doesn’t happen, you’re still establishing yourself as an interested party in the niche, and you may be sought out by others that have seen your interactions, and have similar interests.


Keep An Eye On Who Has Looked At Your LinkedIn Profile

This may feel a bit strange for some, but if your settings allow it, you will be able to see at least a few of the people who have visited your Linkedin profile. Even if they didn’t reach out to communicate anything to you, they visited your profile for a reason. If the viewer isn’t already a connection of yours, determine why you think they looked at you and whether or not they would be a good connection to make. If the person is someone you know, feel free to reach out and send a friendly check-in message. Building a line of open communication is one of the best ways to keep your network strong.


To see the resources used for this article click: TheMuse & Entrepreneur


The Keys to Networking: Alternative Places to Network

Last month, I started a mini series on networking. We’ve already covered the do’s and dont’s of networking body language. So this month let’s delve into the places where you can put your new body language knowledge to work, that aren’t always on the forefront of people’s mind when they think “networking”.

Cafes & Coffee Shops

This one is definitely a little more uncomfortable to think about, because most people are either plugged in or with acquaintances when they’re at coffee shops. But, coffee shops can be the key to finding key players in your industry. Different coffee shops have different vibes and different clientele, so find one that seemingly aligns with the field that you’re trying to connect with. Then, become a regular. Strike up small talk in line or with people you’re sitting near. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but you’ll end up with some great new connections that also double as coffee buddies.

barbara mckinzie coffee shop

Conferences (Of Any Kind)

When people think of networking, they often think they can only really get great networking done at events that specifically cater to the industry that they’re in. But that’s not always true. If you’re attending a conference for anything, business, leisure, or anything in between, use that opportunity to start building connections. The best part about attending a conference is that you are surrounded by people who are just as passionate and excited about a particular topic as you are. That unifier is an easy way to break the ice, and you’ll be able to build a personal connection more quickly than if you were in a space that was strictly business-networking specific.

 barbara mckinzie confernce

Classes (College or Otherwise)

Attending a class, whether you’re working towards a degree or just pursuing a new bit of knowledge are a great place to network. If you’re taking an industry related class, you know that you’re surrounded by people who do what you do and (probably) know people that you want to know. Use break periods to strike up a conversation with your classmates. If there aren’t breaks, create a study group or arrange a coffee date. You’ll never know how you and your classmates will be able to help each other if you don’t make the effort to connect!

barbara mckinzie classroom

The Keys to Networking: Body Language

No matter what industry you’re in, we all know the golden rule: It’s All About Who You Know.

Networking is hugely important for growth in any career path. Being well connected leads to opportunities for growth, advancement, and even mentorship that you may not have had access to otherwise.

The realm of networking may feel intimidating and unattainable for many, so I’m starting a mini series on networking to help eliminate some of the guesswork for you. This month, let’s touch on what I think is the most important part of networking: Body Language.

Networking can be an inherently awkward task, especially for individuals who are not naturally extroverted. Since networking is almost always interactions between relative strangers, first impressions are key, and body language is one of the first things that you’ll be judged on. Here are a few things to keep in mind about your body when you’re making these in person connections:


Make (Reasonable) Eye Contact

When speaking with someone face-to-face, make the effort to look them in the eye. The inability to make eye contact signals deceit or discomfort to others, and that’s absolutely not the impression that you want to make.

Looking someone in the eye makes them feel valued and assures the person that you are speaking to that you are interested.  According to Inc. Magazine,

“When you don’t look people in the eye, they are less likely to look at you. And when they stop looking at you, they start thinking about something other than what you’re saying, and when that happens, they stop listening.”

On the same note, make sure that you’re not holding a gaze that is too aggressive; use bodily cues to gauge the level of eye contact you should be making.


Stand Up Straight

good posture

If you have a desk job, it’s likely that your posture has suffered a bit over the years. When you’re out at events, be mindful of the slouch. Straighten your spine and push your shoulders back. Good posture signals self assuredness, while a slouch well give off the air of being tentative and unsure.






Uncross Your Arms

This one has been said a million times before, but it’s absolutely relevant enough to be repeated here. It’s even listed as Forbes worst body language mistakes to make.  Many times, we will subconsciously cross our arms as a defense mechanism. Crossed arms are a literal barrier that you’re putting between you and the person you’re talking to. When your arms are crossed, you’re letting your companion them know that you’re not comfortable with them, and that’s counterproductive when trying to build a personal connection with someone.


Thank you for reading. Be sure to check back next month to see more tips on networking.


Women in Accounting–Success & How to Get it Part 2

To read part one of this post, click here

barabar mckinzie accounting calculator

Find a sponsor 

As the years go on, it seems as though there are less young people utilizing the invaluable resource of a mentor and even less so finding a sponsor. Most industries are changing rapidly, there is tons of solid advice and tips that transcend time and technology, and what better resource to get it from than someone in your professional network?

Whether its a manager in your company, a professor from college, or a connection from LinkedIn, this is a person who knows your long-term goals, and wants to help you achieve them. Whether by doing some extra work for them or openly and appropriately showing your admiration, this person could be the one who sticks their neck out for you and lands you a coveted position.

Connect with your coworkers

Tons of research has shown that “likability” is absolutely essential to moving up in any industry and that women who are perceived as competent and assertive are seen as lacking in likability. So when the opportunity organically presents itself, take advantage to get to know your peers on an informal, fun level.

Connecting on topics unrelated to business will help you see your coworkers and your coworkers see you as people instead of colleagues.

Communicate effectively 

Let’s face it: we enter the finance and accounting industry because we’re good at math, and we prefer working with numbers than with people. Now, this is not to say accountants aren’t people persons, that would be a gross generalization, but knowing how to articulate what you need from others in order to do your job effectively is invaluable. Having the power, prowess, and confidence to have the difficult conversations that can lead you to rise in the ranks will only give you more merit.

If you’re still in school, taking a class that focuses on negotiation, or a marketing class that focuses on branding would be critical to your trove of skills. It’s never too early to think about the importance of personal branding and how it can catapult you into high level positions.

Take a good look 

When you first enter the workforce, don’t let your lack of experience cloud your vision. Take a realistic assessment of your office and how movement within in the company operates. Find out what will it take to land that corner office or executive title and if it’s going to be an attainable goal. If you feel it might be a little behind the times in terms of promoting skilled and accomplished women, don’t worry, there are plenty of firms that are in demand for talented and professional females.

Women in Accounting–Success & How to Get it

barbara mckinzie accounting

Perhaps you’re a brand new CPA. Perhaps you’ve been in the business for years. Wherever your level of experience may fall, for women in the accounting and finance industry, we still have a ways to.

Now, to say that there hasn’t been progress would be absolutely false. According to the Journal of Accountancy, in 1951, there were only 500 women who held the title of certified public accountant and, in the 1970s, many women interviewing for CPA positions were flat out told “We aren’t hiring any women.”

Today, over 44% of CPA firm employees are women, totaling out at more than 843,000 females (60%) in the accounting and auditing industry. In the classroom, over 70% of undergraduates in Jackson State University’s accounting program are women.

It’s a great field to enter in an economy that’s still struggling to get back on its feet. Showing strong demand–job openings in accounting and auditing were up 19%, and finance was up 21%, in September 2015–as well as above-average salaries for new hires. However, this is still one big problem: the representation of women in high level positions.

Just nineteen percent of partners and principals in CPA firms are women, and while it’s a big improvement from the one percent of women in high level positions in 1989, it’s still a decrease from the twenty-one percent of female partners and principals in 2011. 

What gives? There are plenty of theories as to why women don’t rise to senior positions, from sexism to the desire to not want to work twenty-four-seven. However, that “up-or-out” culture is seemingly on the outs, with firms now listening closer to worker concerns and promoting the value of a healthy work-life balance.

While CPA firms make the shift to uphold family values and a life outside of the office, there are a few key steps females can take in the meantime to help get ahead.

Stay tuned for part two of this post coming soon, where I detail the key steps that females in the accounting and finance industry can take to get ahead.


What Does it Take to be a Great Leader?


If there is one thing the world will forever be in need of, it’s great leaders. Great leaders are supposed to be one-of-a-kind people who are courageous, determined, and resourceful enough to successfully spearhead revolutionary ideas forward. Great leaders must inspire and create change.

Although it sounds like the world’s responsibilities will organically fall on top of great leaders’ shoulders, we must keep in mind that it is our responsibility to promote, cultivate, and prepare these same great leaders. However, according to BCG’s leadership expert Roselinde Torres, we are failing to do so.

During her TED talk, Torres talked about a study she conducted to measure the effective use of leadership development programs in numerous companies. Out of the 4000 companies she surveyed, “58% reported significant talent gaps for critical leadership goals.” In other words, despite all the training and resources made available to their employees, more than half of the companies in the study failed to prepare great leaders.

After analyzing her results and noticing an increasing pattern of failing leadership development programs, Torres took it upon herself to gather more information and ultimately define what makes a great leader in the 21st century. She travelled around the world to learn about effective and ineffective leadership practices. She studied how culture, environment, and current circumstances shaped different kinds of leaders. When she resumed her travels, she was able to distill the following three key questions that can truly address what make a great leader nowadays. Take a look:

Where are you looking to anticipate change?

Great leaders should constantly be looking for potential discontinuities in trends. They should continuously study when and where changes can take place and be prepared for those changes.

What is your diversity measure of your network?

Great leaders recognize the power of diversity. They must possess the capacity to relate and collaborate with people that are different from them. Increased diversity in your work environment can be directly linked to greater levels of pattern identification and solutions.

Are you courageous enough to abandon the past?

Great leaders dare to be different. They understand that sticking to traditional values will eventually stunt their growth. The key to success lies in being able to evolve with the times and the world around you.


The Advantages of an Education in Chicago

Have you ever wanted to get a degree for business, but felt you didn’t have the time or money?

Chicago Booth School of Business offers an 21-month, part-time EMBA program offering executives to continue their business education and more confident and effective professionals. According to the Economic Times, Chicago Booth will be offering a loans of up to 100 percent (yes, that’s right, a free education). With many international students, this financial assistance is an attractive feature. Getting a loan to study abroad often is a major obstacle for potential business leaders, so this loan program is a major asset to Chicago Booth’s program.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Not only does Chicago Booth offer financial aid, but they focus on motivating their students. In a recent Daily News & Analysis India article, Dean Sunil Kumar, Professor of Operations and Management at the Chicago Booth School of Business discussed the current trends in business education.

“We help students create ventures to take on social challenges, hone their ideas and build a team as well as to gain access to mentoring and critical feedback,” said Kumar.

Dean Kumar is a top professional in the field, and is known for advocating on behalf of the use of technology in the curriculum and honing the talents of young students by discovering and tapping into their strongest skill set. This past August he was again appointed the Dean of the program for a second five-year-term, something he regards as a direct recognition of his enthusiastic leadership.

Kumar led the Chicago Booth school when it won a Nobel and a Clark award. Despite this, he is humble and wants the best for his students. “I’ve helped a lot of smart, driven students; it’s not so much what I did, but what I helped other people do,” he said.

The Chicago Booth School of Business offers a flexible curriculum, supportive faculty, and financial aid. Plus, attending business school in Chicago affords students with the chance to network with and contribute to the city’s recovering economy.

Women in Business – What is success and how to get it?

Making a name for yourself in the business world is hard enough as is, but for a woman, it can be even harder. Even though we make up 50.8 percent of the population, 60 percent of students receiving undergraduate degrees, and 44 percent of students receiving master’s degrees in business and management, it isn’t reflected in those holding powerful positions.

While women hold almost 52 percent of all professional-level jobs, 4.6 percent of women hold Fortune 500 CEO positions. In the finance, healthcare and social assistance industries, they hold absolutely no CEO positions.A woman standing in front of the Empire State Building

Obviously, there’s an issue. A giant one. Despite women holding more leadership positions than ever, the extreme imbalance still exists and we need to first acknowledge that before we can expect any kind of change to come.

The Center for Women’s Business Research has found that, for the last twenty years, women have been starting and growing businesses faster than their male counterparts. In fact, 20 percent of all businesses valued at over $1 million are owned and led by women today.

What it is that gives these women an edge to aid in their success? A few key characteristics.

Listen to Yourself. Your gut feelings rarely steer you in the wrong direction, so please ladies, don’t muffle your inner voice.

Establish Core Values. The business world is constantly evolving, and you’re expected to evolve with it. However, you need something to keep you tethered to the ground, and that’s where your core values come in. Examine what timeless values are important to you and your company in order to achieve success and implement them everyday.

Reach Higher. Always strive for more, there will always be something or someone better than your best. High goals usually yield high results. Don’t believe me? The Center for Women’s Business Research found that “the only statistically significant predictor of whether a woman business owner will obtain capital and expand her business is not length of time in business, size of business or industry – it is her goal for growth.”

Live Life. Don’t pack your schedule full of to-dos and meetings and reports, and leave time for life. Whether that’s enjoying a meal, taking a bike ride, or a simple unplanned moment of fun with family and friends. When you’re experiencing life in a way that makes you enjoy and appreciate things, it will undoubtedly fall over into your professional life as well.

Grades 9-14 | The Educational & Business Value

education-barbara mckinzieAs technology is pushing the work force forward with new career offerings, higher education is struggling to keep up. This is happening in how students are being trained for these new work fields. In a system still largely focused on lectures and tests, students are completing their studies while remaining unprepared for what lies ahead.

Several surveys administered by the IBM Institute for Business Value revealed some undesirable results. More than half of respondents believe that the higher education system is not structured in a way that appropriately serves students or industries. One of the biggest challenges for recruiters is actually finding applicants from universities that have enough practical experience to take on professional opportunities at corporate companies.

The solution lies in creating a more applied educational approach. The focus should be on teaching students the skills that they will actually use when class ends. Practical learning is what will close the gaps in performance that recruiters speak of in their search for qualified applicants. Here is where it will be most valued for businesses and schools to work together.

An institution that really incorporates the business world into their learning structure is San Jose State University. They have a program that works with IBM to best prepare students for real world business challenges. There is even a mentorship element where current students can work with employees of IBM to guide them through the business processes that carry through product development, marketing, and even HR.

Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools or P-TECH is an example of a new model for education that was formed in 2011 with the help of IBM. It blends technical and computing efforts while providing the opportunity for students to receive their associated degree for free. The model is set up for grades 9-14 and there are no testing requirements for college admission. Students will even have a business mentor. By the end of the program, students are exposed to more career opportunities and position offerings from companies like IBM.

To learn more about new efforts to merge business and academic training to better prepare today’s students, visit HBR here.