Are you starting to come back into the office? Or maybe you are also starting to attend in person conferences – in either case, it is time to revisit the value of networking!
How many people work in sales tax at your company? So often we hear from sales tax professionals that they are a department of one. Without full-time sales tax colleagues, the work can seem even more daunting and isolating.
If this sounds like your situation, it is time to get connected! Developing your network of people to call on when you need advice – both in and outside your company – can change the game.
We all know “networking” is something we should do, but it can be hard to push yourself to get started. Keep the big picture in mind: the “soft” skill of networking can translate into immensely useful technical help from your connections down the line. Moreover, you may gain sales tax department allies and friends for the rest of your life.
It is almost impossible to measure the value of the knowledge of others when you need it most. Plus, networking is a two-way street – you have a lot of sales tax savvy and experience to share in return!
You may not have thought of this as networking, but there are often connections to be had within your own company!
Establish working relationships with teams outside the tax department to ensure your company is taking full advantage of the latest opportunities in state tax. Sales tax pros can create great collaborative connections with groups like legal, contracting, purchasing, and IT. Poke your head out from your desk (or from your home office) occasionally to pop into another department to ask questions. Volunteer for a cross-departmental project – you will get to know people outside your department, learn what they do, and explore ways you might collaborate in the future.
The connections you make can build the pool of resources available to you and the network of people you can rely upon. Troubleshooting issues related to sales tax becomes a whole lot easier when you have specific people across different departments you feel confident and comfortable calling directly.
The ability to leverage an established internal network can help with buy-in to build a new sales tax service model. Whether you work inside a business or for an accounting or consulting firm, if you are well connected in your organization, someone from an external department will know to approach you if something sales tax-related could provide value to a customer.
Since the pandemic, your networking opportunities might have been limited to social media, chat boxes on a Zoom session and only seeing a “flat” person on screen. Many of us have lost our confidence in networking due to a lack of opportunities to keep using our networking skills. Researchers suggest that it is time to get back to social networking because being exposed to new perspectives is what fosters innovation. And one thing us sales tax pros are known as is innovative! Here is how you can jump back into it…
Start off by refreshing relationships that you have not kept up with over the past couple of years. Options range from a Zoom call to grabbing a cup of coffee to attending an industry event together. This will give you the chance to practice small talk and knowledge sharing with a familiar face. And if you are meeting in person or attending a conference, do what feels natural (and safe). If you are more comfortable maintaining some distance, people will understand. Some people will still be wearing masks and that is totally acceptable.
Once you get back into the habit of maximizing your connections, it will fall into place as time goes on.
One benefit of an in-person event is that you do not have to actively seek out individuals – everyone is already at the same place! One way to reconnect with other sales tax nerds can be at an educational session. The Sales Tax Institute offers two in-person courses every year. These sales tax specific courses are a great opportunity to engage in a dedicated way on sales tax. Sometimes, being a part of a small group of 30-50 people makes it easier to navigate networking conversations. In-person meetups are the perfect place to put your full focus on making valuable connections.
Conferences are a wonderful environment to interact with a broader group of people, from your field’s experts to those curious about your field.
How do you find the right conferences to attend? Look to your industry leaders. For sales tax pros, here are some conferences to look out for each year where you are likely to find some of our team members: AICPA Engage, Avalara Crush, COST, Georgetown, IPT, NYU State Tax Conferences, OneSource Synergy, Paul Hartman SALT Forum, Sovos Comply & Connect: Reporting, Tax Executives Institute, Vertex Exchange, and state level tax conferences (just to name a few!).
Conference season is upon us! The Sales Tax Institute team will be attending the following upcoming conferences and we would love to see you in person! We plan on hosting meetups at each one.
Fill out this survey to let us know if you’re coming, we’ll be in touch!
While they have their benefits, outside conferences, seminars, workshops, and courses are sometimes more packed with sessions or might not have a topic that addressed your specific need, so finding the right sales tax professionals to connect with can be difficult.
Engaging with a sales tax-specific network like the Sales Tax Nerd Community allows you to leverage others’ insight on things your company is going through from audits to automation implementation and everything in between.
If your company has never been under a sales tax audit, a head’s up from a connection about the state’s process or working with a specific auditor can be invaluable. Given the fact that your company may now be registered in many more states than where you might have facilities, you never know if someone in your network can give you a golden nugget to keep your audit running smoothly. You might even find someone that can help you solve a challenge with a tricky software integration or navigate the new Colorado Retail Delivery Fee.
When you build your external network, you not only access a growing base of technical knowledge but also a network of humans that can truly relate to the ups and downs of being a sales tax professional. Genuine and reliable professional relationships and friendships are built on shared experiences.
Even just one sales tax connection outside your company can make all the difference.
Putting the right heads together, whether through a new inter-departmental relationship or a new external connection, can generate ideas whose impact trickles all the way down to the bottom line.
Sales tax touches so many aspects of a business. Within your company, do not shy away from acting as an internal sales tax consultant. Help your colleagues and bosses understand the many ways a sales tax pro can help shape more efficient company processes and be an asset to special projects.
Put on your extrovert hat and attend meetups or join groups where you can meet other sales tax pros – or start your own! Find people with the same passion and enthusiasm for the same sales tax topics. The support and collaboration among external allies will be beneficial for years to come.
Don’t forget to fill out this survey to let us know if you’ll be attending any of the upcoming conferences!