Building an established network is a sure way to jumpstart your professional career. Networking can help students and professionals get to know what job opportunities are currently available, possible future career paths, and the requirements for different positions within a company. Besides the aspirational career aspects, networking is also an opportunity to have intellectual discussions, learn from experienced professionals and foster new business connections.

Members of Surgent’s Market Development Team frequently attend events across the United States. Together, they have compiled a list of their top tips for networking at events. Simply put, these are their top suggestions:

  1. Talk to Everyone
  2. Think About Your Goals
  3. Do Your Homework
  4. Bring Your Resume
  5. Be Confident


1. Talk to everyone

Shirley, Senior Director of Market Development

“Talk to every single company/organization at the career fair/meet the firms. You never know what conversation or connection you make, will lead to your next role or opportunity. Also, if you know that company will be on campus or at state society events multiple times during the semester, make a point to stop in and say ‘hello’. (They actually keep track of this to see how interested you really are!) This is a fantastic way to brand yourself.”

2. Think about your goals

Ryan, Director of Market Development for Universities

“Think about your goals before you attend your networking events and be prepared to make your intentions known. Shaking hands and giving someone your business card is the easy part, but what is your desired outcome from each interaction? I think back to a time earlier in my career when I met influential people, but I failed to capitalize on those interactions. I wasn’t prepared with a plan to let these influential figures know my goals and how they could help. I was simply a friendly face with a firm handshake who was likely forgotten the next day. Clearly communicate your goals, make a plan to follow up with your new connections after the event, and remind them when and where you met.”

3. Do your homework

Paul, Vice President of Market Development

“My number one tip is to ‘Do your homework’. As a candidate you are taking time out of your schedule to attend this event, make the most of it. With all the information available to candidates there is no excuse to not know about each company, what their areas of specialization are, and have some specific questions related to your target companies prepared in advance. Since many of the conversations between recruiters/candidates are short, being prepared in advanced is a key way to stand out and be memorable.”

4. Bring your resume

Brittany, Market Development Associate

“My tip is to always have a prepared resume ready to hand out. Visit your career center/writing center or ask your professor to take a glance. Always utilize the resources that are available to you, because that is what you are paying for! Your resume is something you should be proud of to show off. You have worked extremely hard in order to put down that experience on paper.”

5. Be confident

Evan, Senior Associate of Business Development

“The best tip I can give to students and professionals when networking is to carry yourself with confidence. Your body language tells me more about you than anything else. It’s easy to spot if somebody carries a lot of insecurities with them from a mile away. Even if you aren’t the most confident person in the world, you should still carry yourself as such. So, practice your body language, as well as looking and feeling your best. (Trust me, it defines you way more than the one flyaway hair on your head, or the zit under your nose.) But be warned, it’s a super fine line between coming off as confident, and coming off as cocky or arrogant, which is a huge tell in the opposite direction. Learn where that line is in your personality and stay on the other side of it at all costs. When networking, be sure to keep your head up (literally and figuratively) and walk into conversations with a smile, straight shoulders, a firm handshake, and the confidence that you got this!”

Keep up-to-date on networking skills

Our MDMs frequently travel to events all over the country. Follow Surgent CPA Review on Instagram to see where they’ll be next and learn more tips to improve your networking skills.