Time is Money, and Networking is More Money
Some might think that time spent networking would be better spent doing something more productive, something more profitable. But when you dedicate just a little bit of time every week to making and maintaining business associations, you’re banking your efforts and will be amazed how much interest it will earn for your accounting business in the end.
A Little Networking Goes a Long Way
To give you an idea of just how profitable networking can be, imagine attending one networking opportunity each week. Let’s say that you get two referrals at each of those weekly networking opportunities; that’s 8 contacts per month. Now, what if one of the eight contacts becomes a client? You’ve spent four hours networking and have obtained one client bringing in approximately $300 per month, or a lifetime value of $10,800. That’s a profitable 4 hours. Now imagine if you spent 4 hours networking every month.
Making the Time
You might be so focused on your day-to-day workload that you feel ‘too busy’ to participate in networking activities. But consider this; networking is one of the least expensive and most effective marketing strategies for accounting services. As such, it should not be overlooked by the ‘time deprived.’ Schedule networking like you would an appointment with any of your paying clients. It won’t be long before your networking efforts give you more clients to fit in to your already busy schedule. You would make time for new clients, wouldn’t you?
Networking need only take a small amount of time, but it should be undertaken on a regular basis. Whether it involves a telephone call, card or e-mail message, it is still a networking activity, and this contact will keep you in front of the people with whom you are communicating.
Finding Opportunities – Networking Groups
Three common organizations provide a forum for effective networking. They include your local Chamber of Commerce, various industry associations, and professional networking groups such as Business Network International (BNI). Join these and enjoy the many different benefits associated with them. Attend the meetings regularly, and volunteer to help out. In this, the networking group is much more inclined to become a source of clients.
Networking is not limited to the attendance of networking-related functions. While there are distinct advantages in these activities they are just the tip of the networking iceberg. For example, nowhere else is networking more advantageous than in associating with a tax preparer. Most tax preparers do not do bookkeeping, but regularly work with clients that need help with their finances. As an accounting professional you meet many tax preparers. Get to know them well and be sure to exchange business cards.
Natural Business Partners
In addition to tax preparers, there are other professional relationships that you will want to nourish. These are called “Natural Business Partners” and include individuals that the deal with the same type of clientele you would work with.
Another networking angle that is often overlooked is volunteer work. If you’re a member of any type of organization, whether it be religious, civic, trade, hobby, or even a ‘home owners’ association, then you have an opportunity to focus on helping them with their accounting. This provides you with yet another opportunity to meet potential clients.
To best use your time when attending a networking meeting, you must talk to as many people as possible in the short time frame of the gathering. Develop a 30-second commercial that feels comfortable and fully describes the benefits you offer.
To be a good networker you must also have the ability to listen. The old adage that "God gave us two ears and one mouth and they should be used in that order" is one that has great application in networking. Avoid being impatient to talk about yourself and your own business activities; your focus should be on learning about your new friend, their business, and discovering how you may be able to help him or her.
Of is utmost importance that your networking activities develop a feeling of trust, as trust is the universal foundation of business.
Rules to Network by
There are two fundamental rules that should be followed in order to reap the benefits of networking:
- Give without remembering, and receive without forgetting
When it comes to networking you should not keep score. Do what you can for your contacts without expecting payback. Conversely, you should always be grateful for what your contacts give you. Express thanks often and memorably.
- Be generous with information and connections – there is always a lot to go around
If you’re interesting in obtaining referrals, your initial strategy should be to give them to others.
These two rules are based upon the idea that what you give comes back in spades.
If you want to steadily grow your business, you can’t afford not to network. Take some time today to schedule in weekly networking opportunities.
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