“It’s who you know” takes on new meaning in today’s frenzied business climate. We all appreciate the value of networking, especially as it becomes harder to find the time and energy to develop the relationships that can boost our accounting practice. And as we grow more dependent on the technologies that help us do bookkeeping better (and faster), we interact less and with fewer people. What there is of our network is more valuable than ever.
How to Build a Network Of Potential Client
So how do you efficiently build your network? One way is to attend events sponsored by special interest groups that are specific to business, community, and personal interests.
Here are nine quick tips to help your network grow at meetings:
1. Make it your goal to learn about other people and have them get to know you.
2. Set a goal of attending one meeting per week. Look in your local newspapers, city weeklies, and Internet (ie, Chamber meetings) to find out when and where various networking groups meet. Log the meetings on your calendar.
3. Get to the meetings early. Introduce yourself to one of the officers or board members. Ask to be introduced to other attendees. If you’re uncomfortable as a newcomer at the meetings, remember that others there may also be nervous. You’re probably not alone. Take a deep breath, smile, and go for it.
4. As you greet a new contact, hand him or her your business card with your left hand and shake his or her hand with your right hand. Briefly explain what you do for a living before you ask, “What do you do?”
5. Keep your own business cards in one pocket and the cards you collect in another pocket. This will help keep you organized. Write notes on the person’s business card after your conversation with him or her. This will help jog your memory when you talk to that person in the future.
6. Be sincere about building relationships with the people you network with. Show them that you’re interested in them and what they do.
7. Decide how much time you want to spend with each person you meet. When you reach that limit, move on to someone else. Get to know at least one new person each time you attend a meeting.
8. Be patient. Don’t expect new contacts to become your friends right away. If people get the impression that you only want something from them, they won’t trust you and will shy away from you.
9. Dig for other networking opportunities. Ask people to recommend other meetings that they have attended.
Action After the Meeting is Key
After the meeting, organize the business cards you receive. On each card, write where and when you met the person. Categorize the cards by profession or industry. Flag the cards from the people with whom you want to spend more time right away.
Send a note that says, “It was nice to meet you. If I can ever help you, please let me know.” Clip an article that reminds you of something the person said (the Internet is a great resource) and fax it to him or her with a note that says, “Thought you might be interested in this article.” For instance, I’m often asked about tax saving ideas, so I’ll find an article dealing with that topic.
Refer the person to another contact that could help him or her with a business challenge. People appreciate that.
Additional Marketing Skills
Networking is an essential marketing tool, but there are so many other low-cost ways to find clients. You just need to know how to find the potential clients all around you. Module 4 of the Professional Bookkeeper program teaches you the secrets to quickly find great-paying clients.
Learn How the Marketing Method Taught the Professional Bookkeeper Program Gets You Clients Fast!