Mastering Networking Events Etiquette

Mastering Networking Events Etiquette


Welcome back to our Professional Etiquette and Communication Skills Blog Series! In this post, we dive into a topic that can significantly impact your professional growth: networking events etiquette. Whether you’re an extrovert who thrives in social interactions or an introvert looking to navigate these events with confidence, we have you covered with essential “dos and don’ts” for making the most out of networking opportunities.

The Power of Networking Events

Networking events offer a unique platform to expand your professional circle, foster meaningful relationships, and open doors to exciting opportunities. However, the key to successful networking lies not only in attending these events but also in how you conduct yourself.

The “Dos” of Networking Events Etiquette

Set Clear Goals: Before you attend a networking event, define what you want to achieve. Whether it’s finding potential clients, collaborators, or mentors, having clear goals will guide your interactions and make your time more productive.

  • Dress Appropriately: First impressions matter, and your attire plays a significant role. Dress in a manner that aligns with the event’s formality and your industry. It’s better to be slightly overdressed than underdressed.
  • Prepare Your Elevator Pitch: Craft a concise and compelling introduction that highlights who you are, what you do, and why you are passionate about it. Keep it concise and engaging to spark conversations.

Examples: “I’m Michael, a finance professional on my path to becoming a CMA.” or “Hi, I’m Lisa, an Enrolled Agent passionate about tax strategy.”

  • Actively Listen: When engaging in conversations, listen attentively to others. Ask open-ended questions that encourage them to share their experiences and insights. People appreciate good listeners.
  • Exchange Contact Information: Carry professional-looking business cards or ensure you have a convenient way to exchange contact information digitally. Follow up with a brief email after the event to reinforce the connection. 

Note: Remember that the follow-up should be genuine and personal. It’s not just about collecting email addresses to add to your company’s mailing list and flooding inboxes with promotional emails. When you connect with someone, take the time to send a personalized follow-up email. Reference something specific from your conversation to remind them of your interaction. This demonstrates your authenticity and commitment to building a meaningful professional relationship. The goal is to foster a connection based on mutual interests rather than overwhelming them with generic marketing messages.

  • Follow Event Hashtags: Following event hashtags on social media platforms can help you engage in real-time discussions and connect with other attendees.
  • Respect Others’ Time: Conversations can flow easily at networking events, but be mindful of others waiting for their turn. If a conversation is winding down, gracefully conclude and move on.
  • Maintain Eye Contact: When engaging in conversations, maintain eye contact. It shows that you’re attentive and genuinely interested in the discussion.
  • Respect Cultural Sensitivities: If you’re traveling to a networking event in a different region or country, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with local customs and cultural norms. Different cultures have varying expectations when it comes to greetings, conversation topics, and even body language. What might be acceptable in one culture could be considered impolite or inappropriate in another.

The “Don’ts” of Networking Events Etiquette

  • Avoid Being Overly Pushy: While it’s great to be proactive, avoid coming across as too aggressive or self-centered. Balance self-promotion with a genuine interest in others.
  • Don’t Stay in Your Comfort Zone: Introverts, in particular, may be inclined to stick with familiar faces. Challenge yourself to approach new people and groups; this is where growth happens.
  • Refrain from Constant Digital Distraction: While it’s tempting to check your phone or scroll through social media, give your full attention to the event and the people around you. Being fully present pays off.
  • Avoid Controversial Topics: Steer clear of topics that could spark disagreements or uncomfortable discussions. Keep conversations positive, professional, and focused on common interests.
  • Don’t Overshare Personal Information: Maintain a professional demeanor by sharing relevant details about yourself without going into overly personal matters.
  • Avoid Monopolizing Conversations: Give others a chance to speak and contribute. Remember, networking is a two-way street involving both talking and listening.
  • Don’t Sell Your Product or Service: While connecting might eventually lead to business opportunities, networking events aren’t the place for direct sales pitches. Focus on building relationships first.
  • Don’t Focus on Eating and Drinking: While refreshments are often part of networking events, avoid focusing too much on food and beverages. You’re there to connect and engage with others.

Mastering networking event etiquette is a valuable skill that can significantly impact your professional journey. By following these “dos and don’ts,” you can approach networking events with confidence, build authentic connections, and open doors to new opportunities. So, dress the part, prepare your pitch, listen actively, and above all, be yourself – that’s the best way to make a lasting impression.

Mastering Social Media Etiquette

Mastering Social Media Etiquette

In our blog series on professional etiquette and communication skills, we’ve discussed professional email and conference call etiquette. Today, we’re diving into a critical part of modern communication – social media etiquette. In an age where your online presence can make or break your professional reputation, it’s essential to be mindful of your actions on social media platforms. Let’s explore some key principles to keep in mind.

Think Before You Post: Don’t Say It Online If You Wouldn’t Say It in Person

It’s easy to forget that the digital world is an extension of the real one. The golden rule here is simple: if you wouldn’t say it face-to-face, don’t say it online. Always exercise the same courtesy, respect, and professionalism as you would in a physical interaction.

Respect Privacy: Don’t Tag People Without Their Permission

Tagging individuals in your posts can be a great way to engage with them or share content but never do it without their explicit consent. Respecting their online privacy is crucial in maintaining healthy online relationships.

Seek Consent for Photos: Don’t Post Pictures of Other People Without Their Permission

Posting pictures of others, whether at a work event or a casual gathering, should only happen with their approval. Not everyone is comfortable sharing their image publicly, so always ask for their consent before hitting that ‘post’ button.

Emotions and Clarity: Don’t Post When Angry, Tired, or in the Unclear State of Mind

Emotions can cloud judgment, and tiredness can lead to hasty decisions. Before sharing something or commenting on social media, take a moment to reflect. If you’re not in the right frame of mind, it’s better to wait until you can think clearly and rationally.

Fact-Check Your Information

In an era of fake news and misinformation, it’s your responsibility to ensure the accuracy of the information you share, especially if it’s meant to be informative. Fact-checking is a vital step in maintaining your credibility and the trust of your network. Even if you are reposting something, you should make certain it is accurate.

Privacy Protections: Only Post If You Are Certain About Who Can See It

Always be aware of your privacy settings, but never assume they’re foolproof. If you have any doubt about who can access your post, stay on the side of caution. Think twice before sharing anything sensitive.

Properly Reposting Content: Give Credit to the Original Source

Sharing valuable content from others can be an excellent way to engage your audience and provide fresh perspectives. However, following the etiquette of giving credit where it’s due is essential. When you choose to repost or share someone else’s post, make sure to credit the original source and author. This shows respect for their work and helps your audience identify the content’s origin. Use features like retweeting or sharing on social media platforms to ensure the original post’s visibility. Remember, ethical sharing strengthens your online connections and builds a reputation for fairness and collaboration.

Self-Reflection: Ask Yourself Why You’re Posting

Before posting, ask yourself a few critical questions. Will this post offend anyone? Is it appropriate for colleagues or family members to see? Understanding your motivation for posting can help you avoid potential pitfalls.

Professional Networks: Maintain a Professional Presence

When engaging on professional platforms like LinkedIn, staying focused on professional topics is essential. Use a professional photo as your profile picture and represent yourself accurately. Keep personal matters separate from your professional image.

In conclusion, social media etiquette is about more than just avoiding awkward situations – it’s about building and maintaining your professional reputation. In the digital age, your online conduct can have lasting consequences, both personally and professionally. By following these guidelines, you’ll be well on your way to navigating the digital realm with grace and professionalism. Stay tuned for more professional etiquette and communication skills tips in our ongoing series!

Mastering Professional Etiquette in Conference Calls

Mastering Professional Etiquette in Conference Calls

Mastering Professional Etiquette in Conference Calls

How many times have you been on a conference call with distracting background noise,  lack of engagement, and technical issues that caused communication breakdowns? We've all been there! In this blog, we'll share tips to help you navigate conference calls smoothly and ensure they are productive from start to finish. Whether you're leading the call or participating as an invitee, incorporating these etiquette practices will improve the overall experience for everyone involved. Let's dive into the before, during, and after stages of a conference call to discover how to make them more efficient.

Before the Call: Setting the Stage for Success 

  • Select the appropriate participants based on the agenda. How many times have you attended a meeting you didn’t need to attend? It’s a waste of time, and time is money!
  • Consider time zones when scheduling the call to accommodate most participants. For example, 8:00 am Eastern Time is 5:00 am Pacific Time. No, thank you!
  • Notify the host in advance if you anticipate being late or unable to attend. You don’t want attendees waiting for you and delaying the meeting.
  • Send out an agenda at least 24 hours in advance. It helps the discussion to be more focused and structured.
  • Provide any necessary pre-work materials ahead of time. This way, all attendees will be better prepared.
  • Set a time limit for the meeting in order to stay focused on the agenda.

During the Call: Practicing Engaged and Respectful Communication 

  • Introduce participants who are unfamiliar with each other and their respective roles.
  • Encourage participants to mute themselves when not speaking.
  • Be cautious with the mute button to avoid accidental muting or side conversations.
  • Stay attentive and respect the time of those leading the call.
  • Share airtime and allow speakers to complete their thoughts.
  • Announce your name before speaking on audio-only calls.
  • Address individuals by name when asking questions.
  • Stay on the agenda and note any issues for follow-up discussions.

After the Call: Consolidating and Maintaining Momentum 

  • Send a follow-up note within 24 hours summarizing the next steps and assigning responsibilities.
  • Schedule any necessary follow-up meetings while the participants' attention is still focused.
  • Consider emailing attendees in advance of future calls with etiquette tips.

Practice active listening, and maintain professionalism and respect for all participants. These practices will help create smoother, more productive conference calls, and foster effective communication among team members.

Elevating Your Video Presence during Conference Calls

Have you ever attended a video meeting where an unexpected background or missing participants detract from the overall experience? When appearing on camera during virtual meetings, it's important to maintain a professional and engaged presence.

Video Greeting

"Dos" for Appearing on Video:

  • Test your video and audio settings in advance to ensure clear visibility and sound quality.
  • Dress appropriately, adhering to the same standards you would for an in-person meeting.
  • Maintain good posture and sit up straight to convey attentiveness and engagement.
  • Position the camera at eye level for a natural angle.
  • Ensure proper lighting by facing a light source or using soft light to illuminate your face evenly.
  • Make eye contact by looking directly into the camera rather than focusing on your own image.
  • Minimize distractions in the background by selecting a tidy and neutral environment.

"Don'ts" for Appearing on Video:

  • Avoid multitasking or engaging in unrelated activities during the call. Stay focused on the discussion.
  • Refrain from eating, chewing gum, or engaging in any behavior that may be distracting or unprofessional.
  • Minimize excessive movement or fidgeting, as it can be visually distracting to other participants.
  • Prevent background noise by muting yourself when not speaking and selecting a quiet environment.
  • Steer clear of appearing too close or too far from the camera. Find an appropriate distance for a clear view.
  • Refrain from interrupting or speaking over others. Practice active listening and wait for your turn to contribute.
Conference call

By enhancing your video appearance, actively engaging in meetings, and optimizing your technology setup, you can significantly impact the quality and effectiveness of your virtual interactions. Remember to prioritize professionalism, maintain an engaging presence, and be mindful of your technology settings. 

Stay tuned for more valuable insights in our series on professional communication etiquette!

Mastering Professional Email Communication

Mastering Professional Email Communication

Polish Your Communication Skills - New Blog Series

Welcome to our series of blog posts on professional communication! Effective communication is more crucial than ever in today's fast-paced business world. The way we communicate can make or break our professional relationships. Poor communication is often the leading cause of confusion, misunderstandings, and missed opportunities. But fear not! Our goal with this series is to help you polish your communication skills and become a master of this part of business etiquette. So join us on this journey as we dive into the intricacies of writing and responding to business emails, acing video conferences, making a lasting impression on social media, and much more. Together, we'll elevate your communication game and empower you to thrive in today's interconnected world. Let's get started!

Mastering Professional Email Communication - The Art of Effective Business Correspondence

We have encountered our fair share of interesting email interactions at HOCK International. It never fails to amaze us when we receive messages in all caps demanding discounts and free materials or when individuals fail to express gratitude after we've provided them with a great deal. We've also received partnership inquiries without any mention of the sender's company name and requests to work for us without any introduction about the person who wants to work with us. While some of these instances can be amusing, more often than not, it is a bit disheartening. Many of these individuals are professionals on the path to certification, but their lack of communication skills can hinder their career growth. However, we are fortunate to have numerous students and partners who exemplify politeness and professionalism in their emails, and we genuinely appreciate their courteous and well-crafted messages. It is always a pleasure to read and respond to such emails, and we value their commitment to effective and respectful communication. That being said, welcome to the first blog in our series on professional communication! 

Email has become a cornerstone of business communication in today's digital age. Mastering the art of writing professional emails is essential for fostering positive relationships and achieving your goals in the business world. In this blog, we will explore the key elements of effective email communication, from crafting the perfect subject line to ensuring clear and concise messages. So let's dive in and unlock the secrets to becoming a proficient email communicator!

Subject: The Gateway to Effective Communication 

The subject line of your email is the first impression you make on the recipient. It should be informative, concise, and relevant to the content of the email. Remember, if the subject of a thread changes, it is important to update the subject line to reflect the new topic. This helps recipients easily find and organize their emails, avoiding confusion and ensuring a smooth flow of communication.

Good Examples:

  • "Inquiry Regarding CMA Exam Eligibility Requirements"
  • "Question about CIA Challenge Exam Materials"
  • "Question Regarding CMA Part 1 Section C, MCQ ID 10Q.1.106."
  • "Collaboration Opportunity: Marketing Campaign Partnership"
  • "Follow-up on Job Application for Sales Associate Position"

Bad Examples:

  • "URGENT!!!" (without providing any context)
  • "Hey, can you help me?" (too casual and lacks specificity)
  • "Important!!! Open immediately!" (vague and lacks clarity)
  • "Regarding that thing we talked about" (lacks specific information)
  • "Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: (Subject)" (unclear and indicates a lengthy email thread)

The Power of a Greeting: Setting the Right Tone 

When starting an email, a polite and professional greeting is essential. A simple "Hello [Recipient's Name]" or "Dear [Recipient's Name]" is appropriate in most business contexts. Avoid using overly familiar or casual greetings like "Hey," as they can be seen as unprofessional. Aim for a respectful tone that sets the stage for a positive and constructive exchange.

Email Greeting

Signature: Making a Lasting Impression 

Including a well-crafted signature is a professional touch that adds credibility to your email. For the first email in a conversation, your signature should include your full name, email address, phone number, and position. If you choose to use an image in your signature, ensure it is small to avoid cluttering the email servers. However, when replying to an email, including your full signature is unnecessary, as it can make the email unnecessarily lengthy. It is also not necessary to include links to every social media platform that you are on.

Crafting an Effective Email Body: Clarity and Conciseness 

The body of your email should be easy to scan and comprehend quickly. Use bullet points, spacing, and paragraphs to separate ideas and improve readability. Start with the most important information upfront rather than starting with small talk. Keeping your email concise and to the point is key, as it respects the recipient's time and increases the chances of getting a prompt response. Use at least a 12-point font size for better readability.

The Art of the Unanswered Email: Patience and Follow-ups 

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, emails may go unanswered. In such situations, it's important to remain polite and considerate. Begin with a gentle follow-up email after waiting at least 48 hours, inquiring if the recipient has received your previous email. Summarize your initial email's Call to Action (CTA) to refresh their memory. If the matter is urgent, consider making a phone call instead of relying solely on email.

CC, BCC, and Reply All: Know the Difference 

Understanding the nuances of CC (carbon copy) and BCC (blind carbon copy) is crucial for proper email etiquette. Use CC when you want to keep others informed but don't necessarily need their direct response. BCC should be used sparingly and with caution, as it hides the recipients' identities from each other. When replying to an email, carefully consider whether a reply should be sent only to the original sender or to all recipients.

Email Rules

The Power of a Timely Reply: Acknowledge Receipt 

Even if you cannot immediately fulfill a request or complete a task mentioned in an email, it is important to acknowledge receipt of the email within 24 hours. A simple response, such as "Thank you for your email. I have received it and will provide a detailed response soon," shows professionalism and demonstrates that you value the sender's time and effort.

Final Tips for Stellar Email Communication 

Only add the recipient’s email address after you finish writing the email. Take a moment to review your grammar, punctuation, and spelling to ensure your email appears professional and polished. Avoid writing in all capital letters, because it may be perceived as yelling. Avoid sending large attachments by using cloud storage solutions instead. Consider scheduling a meeting or call if a matter is urgent or highly complex. Remember, emails can be shared, so avoid including confidential or sensitive information unless it is absolutely necessary. Be mindful of time zones when expecting responses from international contacts. Lastly, provide complete and clear information, and be mindful of assumptions and gender references. With these tips in mind, you'll be well on your way to becoming a master of professional email communication.

Stay tuned for more insightful blogs in our series on professional communication!

The Future of Accounting Certifications


The Future of Accounting Certifications

Brian Hock is on the Accounting Influencers Podcast

Brian Hock joined Rob Brown, the host of the Accounting Influencers podcast!

Through his experiences and expertise, Brian has shed light on the future of accounting qualifications and the essential role of technology. As accounting professionals navigate the changing landscape, his advice and perspectives provide a valuable roadmap for success. Listen to the episode to uncover the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in the evolving world of accounting certifications and learn about:

  • Changes in accounting certifications
  • Competition between the certifications
  • Value of certifications
  • Role and impact of technology on accounting certifications
  • Brian’s career experience in Russia and global perspective in light of current political events

About the podcast: The Accounting Influencers podcast goes live every Monday to 150 countries and 30,000 accounting practitioners, fintech specialists, and influencers in the accountancy, CPA, and bookkeeping space.

Listen Online

Watch on YouTube

You may also like: Unveiling the Secrets of Accounting Certifications and Professional Success


Unveiling the Secrets of Accounting Certifications and Professional Success

Profession Session Podcast with Brian Hock and Brody Vinson

Unveiling the Secrets of Accounting Certifications and Professional Success

A Conversation with Brian Hock

In the ever-evolving landscape of finance and accounting, staying on top of the latest trends and advancements is crucial for professionals aiming to excel in their careers. Brian Hock, CMA, CIA, CRMA, CSCA recently shared his expertise and insights on a captivating podcast, Profession Session, with Brody Vinson

With a focus on accounting certifications, technological advancements, personal growth, and professional success, this podcast episode is a goldmine for individuals seeking to thrive in the finance industry. Let's dive into the thought-provoking topics discussed during this enlightening conversation:

  • The Evolution of Accounting Certifications
  • Adapting to the Age of Technological Advancements
  • Crafting Educational Content and Understanding the Audience
  • Unraveling the Path to Success
  • Seizing Opportunities and Customer Acquisition
  • Brian's Non-Negotiable Career Advice
  • The Future of HOCK

Whether you are an aspiring student, a seasoned professional, or an entrepreneur aiming to make informed business decisions, this podcast episode is a must-listen. Prepare to be inspired and empowered as you uncover the secrets to thriving in the world of accounting, finance, and business.

How to Build Strong Business Relationships

How to Build Strong Business Relationships


Welcome Jim Piechowski, CAE!

Jim Piechowski, CAE, has recently joined the HOCK team as the Senior Director of Global Business Development. We are thrilled to have Jim on board!

Before HOCK, Jim worked with the IMA (Institute of Management Accountants) and other national and international organizations in executive positions. Jim strongly supports professional certifications and is an expert in global business and international relations.

We know that many exam candidates aim to get a promotion and become leaders in their professional field and getting certified is a huge help in achieving these goals. However, there is also a set of skills in addition to the technical skills of your profession that is necessary to build relationships and help your industry grow. So, we asked Jim to share his wisdom.

Working internationally requires a unique set of skills beyond technical proficiency, so I'm happy to share some insights on the most critical soft skills for succeeding in an international setting. These soft skills include increased cultural awareness, adaptability, communication, and emotional intelligence.

  • Cultural Awareness: When working with people from different backgrounds and cultures, it's essential to be aware of and respectful of cultural differences. This means being sensitive to different customs, traditions, and communication styles. The more you understand and appreciate other cultures, the better you can build relationships and avoid misunderstandings.
  • Adaptability: Being adaptable and flexible is essential when working globally. You may need to adjust your communication style, work schedule, or problem-solving approach to align with your international counterparts' needs and expectations.
  • Communication: Effective communication is crucial when working across borders. Clear and concise written and verbal communication are essential for building relationships, managing expectations, and avoiding misunderstandings. Although you don’t necessarily need to know multiple languages, speaking a few key phrases or words in various languages can significantly increase your communication ability!
  • Emotional Intelligence: Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage your emotions and those of others. This skill is essential when working internationally because it can help you navigate cultural differences and build strong relationships with people from diverse backgrounds.

Thank you, Jim, for all of the tips and recommendations!

Dear readers, please comment below if you have more questions for Jim.

The Bright Future of Women in Accounting

The Bright Future of Women in Accounting

Today, HOCK would like to recognize and celebrate the achievements of female accountants and honor their tireless work in shaping the future of the accounting industry. Account­­ing has long been a male-dominated field, but that is changing rapidly. The number of women in accounting has been growing, and the trend is expected to continue. Let us look at the trends and predictions for the future of women in accounting.

Increasing Numbers of Women in Accounting

The number of women entering the accounting profession has been steadily increasing in recent years. According to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), women now represent more than 50% of all accounting graduates in the United States, and other countries report similar growth in the number of women in the profession.

More Women in Leadership Positions

As more women enter the accounting profession, they are also climbing the ranks and taking on leadership positions. According to the AICPA, women now represent nearly 30% of all partners in accounting firms. This is a significant increase from just a decade ago when women made up only about 16% of partners. We can expect to see more women in executive roles such as CEO, CFO, and COO; these roles have typically been held by men, but as more women gain experience and rise through the ranks, we will see more women in these roles too.

The Importance of Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity and inclusion have become increasingly important in the business world, and the accounting profession is no exception. Accounting firms are realizing the value of having a diverse workforce and are actively seeking out women and other underrepresented groups to join their teams. This is not just for the sake of diversity but also because a diverse workforce brings different perspectives, which can lead to better decision-making and improved performance.

Greater Flexibility in the Workplace and Focus on Work-Life Balance

Many women are balancing demanding careers with family responsibilities, and accounting firms are recognizing the need for more flexible work arrangements. This could include options such as part-time work, telecommuting, and job-sharing. Accounting firms are recognizing that in order to attract and retain top talent, they need to create a work environment that is supportive of employees’ personal lives as well as their careers.

The Bright Future

We can expect to see increasing numbers of women entering the profession, more women in leadership positions, and a greater focus on diversity, inclusion, flexibility, and work-life balance. These trends are great news for the profession as a whole because a more diverse and inclusive workforce leads to better decision-making and improved performance.

Happy International Women’s Day!

To all the incredible female accountants out there: thank you for your hard work, your dedication, and your unwavering commitment to excellence. You are an inspiration to us all, and we are grateful for everything you do. Happy International Women’s Day!