Get insider tips on successful accountancy networking techniques. Read what's the primary barrier of networking... and you knew it all along! Ensure you're understood and remembered.

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CPA Marketing Newsletter: Networking strategies

Modern Accountancy Marketing & Sales Course

CPA - Accounting Firm Marketing Newsletter:
Practitioner's networking strategies

This week's issue gives tips on networking and discusses especially how to make people NOTICE when someone needs your help.

Networking is a subject much wagged to death by all manner of good and bad ideas.

The concept of "accountancy networking" is so wide and undefined that basically ANYTHING can be considered networking.

Here, I'm not going to waste neither your nor my time yapping about "great tips" like business cards or how to "say hello" or any other such point.

Instead, we'll go for the jugular and look at what is stopping networking and what its actual objective is... or SHOULD be, if you want new clients!


Accountancy networking barrier # 1

The basic problem with the nonprofessionals of accounting — also known as "clients" and "potential clients" — is that they don't KNOW when an Accountant or CPA is needed.

Oh, sure - they know the very basic things, such as monthly writeups, tax filing and so on... but when it comes to more refined problems / solutions, you might want to ensure they REALIZE their associate or friend could use your help.

Let me explain.

For instance, if you talk about "budgeting" or "financial planning," most small & medium enterprise business owners draw a blank... they cannot conjure up any mental image of what it is, what it is FOR, or how it is done.

Instead, they'll merely recognize the words as familiar (they've heard those words so many times without ever understanding - or finding out - what the concept MEANS) and they nod.

So you think that they UNDERSTAND what you just said because they acknowledge that you spoke.

Yet, as there's no concept of it in their mind — WHAT it is exactly, what's it for, etc. — these words CAN NEVER LEAD TO A DECISION OR POSITIVE ACTION.

Therefore, unless you have a way of ensuring that the business owner (or your networking contact) definitely UNDERSTANDS what you're offering, don't be surprised if that contact never leads to any action or decision.

I'm talking about a very specific phenomenon here - familiarity of a concept as opposed to full understanding of its purpose and what it means in terms of DOING it.

If you use terminology OR present concepts which are not FULLY understood by the business owner, it can NEVER lead to ACTION.

That's the difference between RECOGNIZING a word and actually
understanding its meaning well enough to conceptualize it in terms of how and why to do it.

Example: If you're told "to thingamajig the thingamabob" there won't be any chance of that happening simply because you have no idea what action is meant by this unknown verb "thingamajig" NOR what the object of the action, the "thingamabob," actually is.

You would be equally challenged to evaluate the importance or usefulness or even purpose of use of it.

So you could not decide to buy it, use it, get it... you would not even know what it is.

Now, this silly example might seem too far-fetched to be applied to marketing and selling of accounting services... but that's basically how this phenomenon works.

In this example, the words are so CLEARLY unintelligible that it makes it extremely easy to SPOT the misunderstood words.

But in life, there are a lot of words we've HEARD so often that their FAMILIARITY alone makes us think we actually know the full meaning of the concept.

However, when speaking of professional terminology OUTSIDE our own expertise, words really need to be defined (or explained by an expert) before we can trust that the average SME business owner actually fully understands the concept.

And the same applies when presenting accounting services whose purpose of use is uncertain to the other guy.

This is a major problem in marketing and selling of accounting services.

Prospective clients listen... but if you use concepts and words you're not absolutely CERTAIN they understand, they just pass – the presentation doesn't bring up a concept of something they could understand as necessary.

Instead, you'll get replies such as "I have to crunch some figures and calculate what I can afford..." and "I must check out the figures..." and things like that.

The one common denominator in these responses is "I must be allowed to go away without giving you my decision."

The researched, recognized fact of the matter is that business owners don't utilize the knowhow of their CPA or Accountant.

Now, the principal reason for this is NOT what you might think.

It isn't that they are tight about money. It's simply that they don't really KNOW which problems would best be helped by you.

For most business owners, "accounting" is something done solely because keeping books is mandatory by law. That about says it all, don't you think?

Thus, most business owners simply haven't a clue of what is valuable in accounting.

There are various reasons for this but one of the main causes is simply that we don't always manage to communicate our services in the way THEY understand - using THEIR vocabulary and their wordings for the specific problem.


CPA firm networking: Concentrate on the problem, not the solution

Believe it or not, people like to help each other. Most of us also love to show how "well connected" we are.

Being able to offer a solution to someone's problem is something most people like very much - and something they'll do instinctively in a conversation... but only if they RECOGNIZE a problem and it "connects" to a solution that they know of.

In networking, you meet people whom you then hope will refer clients to you. It is customary to explain one's services in way of SOLUTIONS and ACTIONS - you know, "I'm a CPA and I do audits, reviews and all that...," and that type of thing.

It works just fine IF the person you're talking to is your peer and has an in-depth understanding of accounting and finance (and if HE has the ability to "translate" these concepts into layman terms when speaking to potential referrals).

But if he doesn't, then he will acknowledge your communication... but it won't "register" - it won't become a distinct concept stored in his memory - and therefore, he will neither recognize nor ACT when he encounters someone who would need your help.

In other words, if the person cannot recognize the problem and connect YOU as the solution to it, he won't ACT - recommend you to the person in question.

Therefore, it is well worth your while to plan ahead what you say to people when you network so that you optimize your chances of making it CONNECT at the right time.

If it does, you'll activate these people as your sales promoters at no cost - a definite prerequisite for obtaining new potential clients through them.


CPA networking: Installing "automatic sensors" and "unique reminders"

In your networking, you should attempt to install a definite sensor" in the memory of everyone you talk to.

This "sensor" is basically something that will make the person NOTICE when he come across someone that has a problem you can help with.

These are not always easy to develop because you have to work backwards from your service to the problem it fixes AND the cause of the problem.

For instance, financial monitoring and consulting would keep the business updated on issues such as collecting fees owed. Thus, you might conclude that whoever has an acute crisis in this area might have overlooked it for so long that they're a prime candidate for this service.

Thus, you might develop an automatic sensor whose wording is something along these lines:

"If anyone says they're having major problems in collecting monies owed by clients, tell them to contact me for a free consultation... we have a special service that can make debt collection problems a thing of the past..."

This is just an example and I would refer you to Part 10 of Modern Accountancy Marketing & Sales Course which is all about networking with some very clever and functional techniques... but you get the idea.

Instead of going into all the trouble of explaining the nature, structure, ingeniousness and elements of your service, you simply give the guy something he can understand and remember... something that LEADS to a contact if he EVER hears a friend complaining about collecting fees owed.

Simple and effective... and it works.

A "unique reminder" is an easy and somewhat personal "byline" you create about yourself or your services - something that is easy to remember for people who don't know you well.

Every successful sales person has one (things like "the guy with the green hat" and then the salesman wears a green hat at all times.)

In Accounting, you'd want to go with a bit more conventional image, of course. But coming up with a byline that ALSO makes you easier to approach, such as "The Friendly Accountants" or "Make-Sense CPA" will actually help people to remember you.

(You would have this in your business card and you'd also tell people "Oh, by the way, we're called 'the Friendly Accountants')

Going with our fictional example of automatic sensor, and if you found out that collection was a huge problem to which your service offers a workable solution, you could create a reminder that is along those lines:

"The collection expert CPA" — or something that identifies you with collecting or handling the problem — would definitely command attention and create interest among this niche target group.


CPA networking: Securing the systems and tools of successful networking

What are the secrets of successful networking? How do you harness the naturally positive elements of human communication to produce a continuous flow of prospective clients and referrals for your services?

If you're interested, these and many unique networking systems are presented in Part 10 of Modern Accountancy Marketing & Sales Course, a 12-part practical toolkit giving tested and proven marketing and sales techiniques tailored for CPA firms and accounting practices.

Keep that "net working" and do well!


Best wishes,

Harry Kafka
HDK Consultants U.S.A. Inc.
PMB 211, 411 Cleveland Street
Clearwater, FL 33755
Phone (727) 474 1206
Calls from outside USA: +1 727 474 1206

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HDK Consultants USA Inc.
HDK Consultants U.S.A. Inc.
PMB 211
411 Cleveland
FL 33755
Phone (727) 474 1206
Calls from outside USA:
+1 727 474 1206

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