Life is tough on the front line of accountancy. For more than five years, our intrepid correspondent has been bringing us news and views from a typical West Country practice.
Confessions of a networking virgin
I don't mind the occasional business lunch, but I have never really looked into the increasingly popular (so it seems) business networking breakfasts that seem to be all the rage these days.
Until now, that is. A client managed to grind me down this week after pestering me for ages and persuaded me to go along to an open meeting at one of the better-known networking groups in a local pub.
The 7am start was a bit of a struggle, but I was amazed to find that even though I arrived in good time I was in fact the last one! They're a keen bunch. A few cups of strong coffee later and I was getting into my stride when we were called for a hearty West Country cooked breakfast. My arteries are still groaning from the unaccustomed flood of cholesterol at that unearthly hour. The format seemed to be fairly rigid, a round of introductions from all present, a bit of chatter from the leaders and then a 10 minute talk by one of the members. The formal bit of the meeting ended with a second tour round the table for people to refer business to each other and say nice things about other members - all very positive stuff. I even managed to give a referral myself, having been let down by a tradesman recently I met the occupant of that slot in the group and liked him, so I thought I'd give him a try (incidentally, he has since been in touch, looked at the work and emailed me a very professional - and competitive - quote, so it was well worth the effort!).
And suddenly I was in the office just after 9, having already done a couple of hours' marketing. Is it for me? I'm not sure, the early start is a killer in the winter, and I don't know if I could keep up the enthusiasm on a weekly basis. But I may go again, if only for the excellent breakfast!