New York (Nov. 20, 2003) —  In order to network successfully, you must have an effective process in place that includes a written plan, marketing directors from two New York-based CPA firms advised attendees at the National Forum for Women in Accounting.

"You have to have a written plan. You have to define your short- and long-term goals," Carol Schrager, marketing director at Friedman Alpren & Green, told attendees during a session this week on sharpening your networking skills. "You can't evaluate whether you're accomplishing what you want to accomplish if you haven't set measurable goals."

Schrager noted that the plan must include identifying your networking targets and evaluating your resources. In addition to looking to your current client base and your referral sources to build your network, Schrager advised looking to friends, family, peers and professional associations as potential resources as well.

Part of networking effectively is being able to track your network, noted Susan Lanfray, marketing director at ERE LLP. "Don't rely on your charisma and your ability to remember names. You need to follow up." Lanfray suggested tracking important information, such as when you last spoke to or e-mailed a person in your network, by using an e-mail program with an address book.

Lanfray and Schrager encouraged listeners to "bump up" members of their network by taking relationships to the next level. For example, build a relationship with an existing client by asking to meet other members of their network and by asking them to become part of your referral network. "Move them into your inner circle, and ask them to move into yours" by joining their associations, attending their events, and networking where they do, Lanfray advised. "Be specific about what you're looking for."

— Melissa Klein

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