The economic downturn of the last few years, merger and acquisition activity and company relocation have all contributed to reductions in senior-level positions right along with those of rank-and-file employees. But for high-level financial executives, conducting a search for a new high-level position—whether out of choice or out of need—provides a unique opportunity to explore options, and the results can be a smooth transition, or even a brand new career path.
Top financial professionals typically have been under so much pressure that they likely have little time to tend to their careers. Those seeking new positions may not have been good about keeping connections outside the companies they served. And their dedication now has them at a disadvantage.
If you're among those who stopped networking long ago and have awakened to find your network is severely lacking, you are not alone. Many financial executives are in the same situation, establishing new relationships and kindling the contacts that waned years ago.
Reignite Your Network
Start by looking to any of the professional associations and alumni organizations you have been a part of. Conferences and events not only offer a way to stay abreast of current and emerging industry trends, they also provide a way while at the same time being able to find colleagues, renew old ties or establish new ones.
If you haven’t already dipped a toe into social media, online tools offer yet another way for executives to broaden reach. They provide significant opportunities to connect with peers, build relationships and identify career opportunities. And as you make new connections, put a process in place to establish a dialog. Write a blog. Be an active Twitter contributor by exchange professional views, articles and opinions.
Consider inviting those you meet to finance-related events and introduce them to your circle. Networking is always a two-way street.
Those senior financial executives who are willing to entertain opportunities they may have previously rejected can often find success in roles that may appear to be very different than those they had occupied before. Open yourself to new careers that take advantage of your years of experience with results-oriented strategies. Learn how to leverage your skills and experience by comparing them to those used in other professions.
There is a chronic shortage of experienced leaders and management in non-profit organizations, especially as they become larger and increasingly complex. And challenging times sometimes require challenging your own status quo, such as moving from a global to a local or regional firm, or moving into consulting. While looking for your next permanent opportunity, consider offering your expertise on a project or short-to-medium-term basis.
Along with keeping active, adding income and gaining new contacts and experience, you’ll demonstrate your hunger and assertiveness and keep your skills current. In fact, many senior-level professionals find they enjoy the consulting life and embrace it as a permanent role.
While a search for a new role is rarely completed easily or rapidly, the end result can be very rewarding. Wherever you decide to apply your leadership skills, take care not to repeat the mistake of allowing your new responsibilities to prevent you from keeping your network active. It won’t be easy. Still, taking the time to constantly build and nurture your network could lead to new opportunities at some point further down the line.