Networking

Thanks to everybody for your contributions they have been very helpful, I have now come up with a networking plan and would invite your feed back on this idea.

I plan to organise local educational networking events whereby I get and IFA, Accountant, Lettings Agent and Estae Agent to come and present their services in an educational format to the attendees. In the first place I thought we could get the businesses that are involved to invite their clients along as well as do local advertising for the event.

I think if done this way we would have a far great er attendance with a friendly non-sales environment whilst presenting information that our clients would be interested in. Over the last few weeks I have been looking at these kind of events and they seem to be growing in popularity with one event in Berkshire regularly fully subscribed with 250 attendees month in month out, as well as having presentations on matters of Tax Finance and property there would be the opportunity to network with potential clients during breaks and speak about our services on an individual basis. Attendees would be invited to pay a nominal £15.00 fee but this would simply be to cover venue and refreshment costs.

I think the main benefit would be that you would in effect be introducing your clients in a non-threatening environment that is both controlled and informational.

Let me know your thoughts.

 

David.

 

Comments

Relationships lead to opportunities to market yourself.

HudsonCo | | Permalink

If you mean do I belong to business networking groups then yes. Networking groups are about relationships rather than direct marketing. It takes about 12 months for them to pay off in terms of new business as you need to build relationships so that people will trust you enough to refer others to you. You can help build the relationship by referring business to other group members where appropriate.  Personally I don't like groups that insist that you HAVE to give x referrals per month because it may not always be appropriate.

I also use the groups to recommend client services; it is no extra effort for me and helping clients helps me. Once you start to receive leads through networking then they are usually much better quality. Networking and referrals give me 100% conversion rate compared to other methods of 70-80%. There is plenty of information in books and internet on how to get the most out of your networking. I also found networking groups useful for meeting suppliers when I first started up.

Even closed groups give the opportunity to attend a couple of sessions before you have to decide about joining. Apparently the accountancy position in closed groups is one of the first ones to be filled so you may need to wait a while to join or wait for a new group to open up.

Another way to network is to see what groups you already belong to eg golf club, gym and then see how you can use these to build your personal business network. It is also more fun if you are doing something that you enjoy but concentrate on building relationships first and don't be pushy with those who are only there for a game of golf etc.

If you are a natural introvert then networking is probably not for you. If you are more extrovert then you'll probably find that you network naturally wherever you go. I picked up a client while strawberry picking in the rain and my welly boots on a day off with the kids! Not only that but the client gave me two more referrals within a couple of months.

Have a go and see how you get on.

maxxy's picture

Put your ladder up the right wall!

maxxy | | Permalink

I know networking is one of the favoured marketing methods for a lot of accountants and from what I hear from people it varies quite a lot in terms of success.

I do get a lot of accountants who when they become clients of mine, often refer to the fact that their current marketing consists largely of networking and it hasn't performed very well for them in terms of meeting actual sales targets so they want to try something different (and sometimes desperate!) with telemarketing to get results quicker with lead generation.

The thing about any marketing activity is that it needs to be geared with target audiences in mind.  For an accountant looking to provide general services to micro and small end of SME in a particular geographical area then networking is probably a good option.

However, when you think about it networking events have a fairly small number of people in regular attendance and even with referrals from group members to people outside of the group, it will not ever compete in terms of ROI I don't think with some other marketing methods.  If I compare with telemarketing for example (coz it's close to my heart and I can talk more knowledgeably about this than anything else) networking is not as targeted or as predictable and doesn't feed as many new prospects into a pipeline in the same was as telemarketing does. I'm not saying that networking is a waste of time, I just think it should be selected in line with target audiences, and used alongside other marketing activity.

Personally I love networking for reasons other than lead generation such as learning, support, and local business awareness and I have had to be ruthless with myself to not attend just for the fun of it as I have lost way to much time putting my ladder up the wrong wall in the past. I'm a telemarketer not an accountant so not sure if that helps answer your question or not. 

Agree with what Hudsonco says about networking in the most unexpected places too!

-- www.maxxy.co.uk www.find-me-an-accountant.com Twitter:@maxinemaxxy

mr. mischief's picture

good results from both

mr. mischief | | Permalink

I've had good results from both networking and targetted mailshots followed up by calls.  I normally do not mention accountancy until the potential client does.

Instead I disucss their business strategy, marketing strategy, key business goals for the year ahead.  Once you've done enough of these, you have an in-depth sector by sector awareness of your local economy.  You also have an awareness of tactics and approaches which work well locally and which you can suggest to clients and potential clients.  In other words you can offer your clients recession-busting strategies which you know have worked for other businesses.

When you move the conversation on to accounts - or more normally the other person does - you already have a pretty clear idea how the finance side of things should be fitting into the overall strategy.  This in turn means that if the existing accountant has "gone to sleep" on the client, you can make a very compelling offer which meets specific current needs the business has which are not being met.

Examples:

1.  Reduced forex costs of one client by £30k per year.  It had not occured to the previous guy that Nat West might not be offering great rates if you just dialled them up every week.

2.  Carried out a strategic review for one client who has a world-beating product, but needs a partner with more marketing and financial muscle to get the sales growth the business needs.

3.  Carried out a financial options review for a fast-growing client which has fingers in a lot of profitable pies, but often has to pass up on some of these due to lack of short term funds.

Knocking out accounts and tax return, payroll and VAT return is "day job" stuff.  When you've just had an in-depth discussion of business strategy and made constructive suggestions for a step-change in business performance, the  potential client takes it for granted you can add up the numbers OK.

Plus this stuff is much more interesting than talking debits and credits!

 

 

 

 

alan.kennedy.smithkennedy's picture

Networking

alan.kennedy.sm... | | Permalink

BNI works very well for me - about 10-12K per annum plus lots of spin offs.

David2e's picture

Down to individuals

David2e | | Permalink

All great advice and insight from experience here.

I think as HudsonCo mentioned, it can depend on the type of person you are as to what methods will be more successful than others for you.

We have a partner offer that might be helpful in this from Liddell Dunbar. They specialise in training accountants with business development, marketing etc and are results focussed.  Might be worth a chat with them to see what they might be able to help you with to ensure whatever you do is worth it.

David Toohey
The Accountants Circle

husainweb's picture

Which groups have worked?

husainweb | | Permalink

Hi all

I've been looking into networking groups and reckon I'm going to try it out. I was wondering which groups people can recommend? Grateful if you could indicate the sort of income you're generating from your membership as that would be a good way to compare one group against another.

Thanks in advance

SH

Free groups!

HudsonCo | | Permalink

I used to attend a free monthly group connected to Chamber of Commerce. Each week there was a random selection for two people to do a "two minutes of fame" presentation. The week I did mine led to 2 new clients; not a bad return for two minutes work and the petrol money.

Generally "it depends". You need to balance cost of membership/functions, time to travel to group, frequency of meetings and the size of the group. Bigger meetings have more potential but smaller ones give more time for better relationships. Free ones attract more startups who haven't appointed an accountant yet but less cash to spend. Even the nationals like BNI vary from group to group.

Most of the closed groups give a free trial visit or two BUT the accountant slots are the first to go which means joining a brand new group which takes longer to produce results.

Sorry it doesn't really help but get out there and see which ones suit your business and personality best. You need to allow 6-12 months as part of it is meeting people who already have accountants so you need to wait until either they've been let down by their own accountant, your relationship becomes stronger than the old accountant or they have a friend who is looking for an accountant.

bookmarklee's picture

REALLY good advice from @HudsonCo

bookmarklee | | Permalink

Check out local networking groups and give them a try but don't whatever you do go there expecting to come back with a load of leads. And remember too there's no point in shoving your business card into everyone's hand. NO-ONE refers work to a business card!

When you're networking you are building relationships in the hope that someone will come back to you when they have a need. Most forms of direct marketing are focused on trying to find people who need your services NOW.  Very different.

Mark

www.BookMarkLee.co.uk

Please provide some names and link for them

MoneySavingBank | | Permalink

Hi,

Thanks for giving so much info on this.

I am not very sure about what are the Networking options i have in my area.

How do I find out what are the networking options i have in my area? Could somebody please explain this for me.

I appreciate your time and effort.

Regards,

MSB

Add comment
Log in or register to post comments
Group: Accountants and marketing
A discussion forum to share how accountants are marketing effectively.