Ahh…networking. It’s both the key to success yet one of the biggest drains on time, time that most professionals don’t have to spare. So what are your choices: put networking off to spend time on tasks that give you an instant return on investment or dedicate the necessary time to deepening existing connections and creating new ones but at the expense of your chargeable time targets? Neither of these choices is sustainable alone; the key to success is to both hit your chargeable time targets AND invest ahead to grow your practice. Here are 7 time-saving business networking tips for accountants.
It may sound counterintuitive because you don’t have the time, that’s the problem, but if you don’t slow down and put in the time and effort to networking, then your efforts won’t be effective. You will just be running on that networking hamster wheel wielding no results and ultimately, that is a waste of your time. Effectiveness comes before efficiency, so take some time to focus on building relationships with your connections and you’ll reap the rewards. (Read our ultimate guide on balancing client work and networking)
Focus on them, not you
So many people come in too strong when it comes to networking; they sell and spend their time asking for something and then move on to the next person. This does not build relationships and win clients, it’s the equivalent of face-to-face cold-calling and it’s a waste of your time. One of the best business networking tips for accountants that we can give is to compel rather than sell. What can you and your practice give to them? Can you or anyone you know help them with a specific challenge or issue that they have? Offer your help and you’ll be creating a strong foundation for a long lasting relationship. (Here are 5 ways that you can change your mindset)
Always make decisions based on “Price Vs Value”
Before you waste time attending a networking event, a one-to-one meeting or joining a networking group, evaluate how much value it will bring you. Don’t just attend every event that comes up in an effort to meet as many people as possible, this is a waste of your time and time costs money. Instead, do some research and target the right events, target the right people and make better connections for it. Which events connect with your goals? How will it benefit you if you attend it and what do you want to get out of it? (This blog will help you answer those questions!)
Set your own goals
To get the most out of a networking event, always set yourself goals first. Do you want to make 10 new contacts? Do you want to practice your pitch before a bigger event? Do you want to find out and get an introduction with the decision maker at a specific company that you’ve been trying to connect with for months? Whatever your goals, know them going into an event as they will help you achieve the value that you want in exchange for the time that you will invest.
Make time to follow up
Many accountants (and countless other professionals in fact) fall down when it comes to following up on great connections that they have made after an event. This is crazy because if you don’t follow up, that potential client won’t remember you, a relationship won’t be formed, you don’t get any value from it and no value equals wasted time. Our biggest business networking tip for accountants? Follow up as soon as possible! Set aside the time and do this. It will set you apart from the rest and you will make a great (and memorable!) first impression.
Know when to call or meet a potential client
One-to-one meetings can really eat up your time, so reserve these for potential clients that will bring the most value to you and your practice. A one-to-one meeting involves coordinating schedules, setting the appointment, preparing for the meeting, driving to and from the appointment and then the meeting itself, so really think about whether it is worth investing the time or whether a call will be just as sufficient. It’s okay to schedule a call with a new connection, so don’t be afraid to say no to a meeting and recommend a phone call instead.
Create your own opportunities every day
While networking and attending events is extremely beneficial, it’s important to remember that often, the best referrals come from people who know you, what you stand for and how you work.(Find out how to win clients without having to network) For this reason, one of the best business networking tips for accountants is to create your own networking opportunities every day.
Ask your staff members to look out for referrals and mention to their clients the types of work that your practice is looking for. You can even leverage your existing activities such as if you volunteer at events or engage in weekly social events or extracurricular activities. This is a much more relaxed setting where you can sell yourself without the pressure, you just have to have an open mindset and spot the opportunities as they come.
Time-saving business networking tips for accountants
As you can see from these 7 business networking tips for accountants, it’s not always about doing things quicker, it’s actually about using your time more effectively. Working smarter not working harder.