Don't just barge into a conversation

Heather Townsend
The Excedia Group
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I was at a tweetup this week, and engaged in a lively conversation with someone I had just met. We were getting to the juicy bit of the chat when suddenly a large lady plonked herself in front of us. Without any opening gambit, we suddenly found that we were now a collection of three people, and she was introducing herself with gusto and suddenly not just involved in our conversation but leading our conversation. I was so amazed at this apparently lack of respect for us, and frankly poor manners that I didn’t say a word. I’m guessing my face must have been a picture, as our uninvited guest stayed for 30 seconds and then ‘had to find her drink, but would be back’ – she never came back! The silly thing is, if she had made eye contact with either of us and asked permission to join the two of us, I would have welcomed her with open arms.

So, what are the lessons we need to learn from this little incident?

Firstly, there is the gold rule that if you are working the room and want to join a group, then always asks permission before you invade their conversation. Secondly, do not automatically assume that because a group is standing in an open formation that they are happy to accept new people into the group!

What faux pas have you seen when networking?

About Heather Townsend

Heather Townsend is a brand ambassador for the Practice Excellence Programme, and the Founder of ‘The Accountants Millionaires’ Club’. In 2015 the ICAEW decided she was the number one online influencer for the accountancy profession. She is the author of 4 books, including The Go-To Expert, and ‘How to make partner and still have a life’ (co-authored with Jo Larbie).

Heather is always up for a challenge. Perhaps that is why she has built a track record of helping accountants grow the size of their practice by 50-200%, often in under two years. Often helping them make partner or equity partner in the process.

Heather is a high profile member of the accountancy profession in the UK. She has worked with over 300 partners, coached, trained and mentored over 2000 professionals at every level of the UK’s most ambitious professional practices. Heather's clients have included: 7 out of the Top 10 UK practices, including all the Big 4 firms. 

In 2016 her and her team of coaches have coached:

1) 7 people successfully to partner

2) Professionals from all of the Big 4, from every major continent in the world


As well as helping accountants make partner, she still spends 40% of her time helping small firms, typically under £1m GRF:

1) Create profitable revenue streams from advisory services and reduce their reliance on revenue from compliance services

2) Radically increase their profitability, even if they are a cloud based practice, often helping them achieve a net profit margin of 40%+

3) Double or even triple the size of their practice within 3 years

4) Win bigger and better clients

5) Grow the right team around them so they stop working stupidly high hours and spend quality time with the people they care about

Her articles appear regularly in the UK national and trade press, including The Financial Times, Accountancy Age, The Sunday Times and The Guardian. Heather is also in-demand for her speaking and has recently returned from the South African Accountancy Academy conference.


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28th May 2012 12:22

I fear this is the

'nature of the beast'.....60 people in a room - so lets speak to everyone (and hope i meet someone who i think will be useful to me) - this is where the fixed format (b for b, BNI etc) win over the individual events....

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By Flash Gordon
28th May 2012 16:39


What on earth is a 'tweetup'?!


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