5 ways to build your profile without physically being there

 

When I started my own business I had a 20 month old and a 3 year old. My decision to be my own boss, similar to many accountants who decide to set up their own practice, had been preceded being made redundant, whilst the global economy crashed. Yes, that was three years ago. As my business was started in haste, I didn’t have the luxury of pots of savings to full back on or months of diligent preparation. My redundancy pay was, shall we say, not as generous as I would have liked it to be. All these reasons meant I needed to put food on the table quickly, but without the luxury of being at every networking opportunity available. Childcare made it difficult to get out there. For example, I’ve not yet found a nanny or childminder who is willing to start at 06:00 at the morning to let me go breakfast networking. In addition, evening networking events tends to get expensive when you factor in the cost of a babysitter for the evening.

Let’s forget the cost of physically being there – I also didn’t want to spend large amounts of time away from my family. My whole reason for wanting to be my own boss, was to enable me to build an income around the demands of my young family. So, I needed a safe and easy way of building my profile without having to actually get out there and physically meet folks.

So how did I do that? And, more importantly, how can you learn from my example regardless of whether you are building a client portfolio, or just making sure your profile is high within your firm?

1. Know who is important to you

If my experience working with delegates on business networking courses is anything to go by, most people have not sat down and thought about who they need to spend time with, and why. If you only have limited time to physically ‘be there’, then choose wisely which events you will ‘be there’, and who you will be spending time when you are there. For example, if you are employed, then who are the top 10 people who through their influence, position or budget can help you achieve your business goals? If you can only meet 2 people each week for a coffee or lunch together, who should be those two people?

2. Use social networking sites

Ten years ago, when social networking sites were in their infancy, it was all about phone, email or meeting up in person. Now, you can keep in touch through many different channels – phone, email, meeting, skype, text, twitter, LinkedIn, facebook. For example, when I was working a 3 day week, I used to keep up with all the gossip in my department via Facebook. Sites like Twitter and LinkedIn provide you with a one to many communication tool. This allows you to have conversations ‘little and often’ between the 1:2:1 interactions, such as a phone call. My use of Twitter and LinkedIn now negates my requirement to be at large conferences or mix and mingle events. I tend to use them to make initial contact with potential prospects and introducers.

3. Have a rolling 3-6 month relationship plan

When you know who is important to you, and which events are important for you to attend, then write a relationship plan. Every 3 months re-visit this plan and extend it for the next six months: Decide whom you need to phone, email and lunch to keep the relationship strong and healthy. This should be time outside of the day-to-day work stuff – i.e. time to get to know them better.  Write this plan for the next 3-6 months, and diarise it. If you have the luxury of a secretary or PA, involve them in booking your meetings and making the plan happen. If they know whom you want to meet physically, and in what frequency then you can delegate this down to them to make this happen.

4. Write a blog

One of the best ways to keep yourself on your network’s radar is to send them carefully selected articles from time to time. Of course, you don’t need to have personally written these articles, or assume that you need to write all of them. Your own blog gives you a voice, a publishing outlet and a way of raising your profile and credibility with people in your network.

5. Be innovative with the time you have available

If, like myself, you have spent anytime in professional services, you will know that in this industry the standard ‘getting-to-know-you’ medium is lunching. Now, I like a good lunch like the best person – but there are more options than lunching. How about, meeting for a drink after work, having an early evening meal, having a breakfast meeting, going for a coffee, going to an event together – the list is endless. Within your company or industry, there will be a standard preferred getting to know you mechanism. This doesn’t mean to say you need to slavish follow this route.

What else would you add to this list?

Comments

Some good stuff....    1 thanks

justsotax | | Permalink

with the exception of (4) which i still have an issue with, especially if you are effectively going to import the blog....everything makes complete sense!

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I help professionals, mostly accountants and lawyers become the Go-To-Expert. After joining BDO LLP in 2004, I have now almost clocked up ten years working predominantly with accountants helping them achieve their career and business goals. Unusually for someone with an Engineering Degree, I accidentally became a writer and used my knowledge on social media to write the current best-selling and award-winning book on networking, The FT Guide To Business Networking. (over 100 five star reviews on amazon) In 2012, the book I always wanted to write, 'How to make partner and still have a life' was published. In March 2014, my latest book, 'The Go-To-Expert: How to build your reputation, differentiate yourself from the competition and win business' was published. People frequently talk about me as someone who really knows her stuff – which may be the reason I have, over the last decade, worked with over 300 partners, coached and trained over 2000 professionals at every level of the UK’s most ambitious professional practices. 

I am honoured to have been asked to judge the British Accountancy Awards in 2011 and 2012. I am a member of the Accountant's Club Global Advisory Panel, and write regularly on practice management issues for CCH.

Myself, and Jon (my co-director) are approved Growth Accelerator Coaches. This means that we can if you are eligible, through the Growth Accelerator scheme, help you get some coaching funded by the scheme. Click here for more details to see whether you are eligible for the scheme.

Read how we have helped one of our accountancy clients access Growth Accelerator funding to grow their turnover by nearly 50% and profits by over 200%

The types of work I am currently helping my small professional practice clients with, includes:

1) Helping a £2m t/o practice grow to £4m by restructuring the firm and helping the management team step up 

2) Working with a £1m t/o practice to grow to £2m by generating more leads, and getting more work from existing clients

3) Enabling a £300k t/o practice grow to £1m by helping it sort out it's profitability by adding in efficient systems and processes, and increasing the quality of the  lead generation by marketing to a niche

4) Facilitating the growth of a one man band practice into a 3 person practice by helping increase the lead generation and conversion rate of leads, plus keeping the practice owner accountable to his goals.

The Excedia Group was founded by myself and Jon Baker to bring clarity, perspective and knowledge to help our clients achieve their business goals. We specialise in working with highly technical individuals, typically lawyers and accountants, helping them to get out of their comfort zone and build a profitable and sustainable client portfolio whilst handling the challenges of leading a business. 

My work splits into about 50% Executive & Business Coaching with Partners & potential partners, with the rest split between training, consultancy and writing.

My articles & quotes regularly appear in the press, e.g. FT, Guardian, Accountancy Age, Accounting Today, Economia, ACCA's publications. I regularly blog at Partnership Potentialventure-NowJoined up networking and How to make partner.

To book me for a speaking engagement please contact my PR Agency, Meerkat PR, on 020 8563 0182, and ask for David Stoch. For any other work related enquiries, please contact me directly.

My clients have included: Deloitte LLP, KPMG LLP, BDO LLP, Haines Watts, MSI Global Alliance, UK200 group, Macintyre Hudson LLP amongst others.