Network like a pro
Networking is not about selling, it is about building relationships and trust; it might not come easily, but make sure you have a system in place, says South East London Area Society (SELAS) Chair Vicky Andrew.
Like many other accountants, networking did not come easily to me; it took me out of my comfort zone. However, I learnt the skills to do it effectively.
Networking is about getting business from people who are not already your clients. The discipline of client care with a view to getting your clients to recommend you is a whole other area, as is connecting with people via social media; sometimes nothing beats that face-to-face relationship.
Networking is not about selling, it is about building relationships and trust. A good place to start is by identifying and nurturing your existing network. This can include friends and family as well as existing business relationships. Asking people you know to introduce you to their contacts is easier than trying to set up a meeting with someone you have never met before. Make sure that everyone in your network has several of your business cards.
People are more likely to look for referrals for you if you have given them a referral. Therefore, be on the lookout for opportunities to refer business to your contacts.
Networking organisations and events arranged by local banks or Chambers of Commerce can be very productive, but you need a system in order to achieve results. Although I gained a lot of business from being part of a networking organisation with a membership fee, I found that the time commitment was more than I had originally envisaged. Therefore, these days, I adopt a more ‘do-it-yourself’ informal approach, using the skills I have learnt. However, I still need a system and goals to keep things moving forward.
After a good conversation at a networking event, exchange business cards, then follow up after the event, by suggesting a one-to-one meeting. Such meetings can be with a potential customer, or someone in a complementary business to yours, who is in position to deliver multiple referrals to you.
If you would like to discuss this further, please contact me via London Accountant.
Vicky Andrew is SELAS Chair as well as Chair of the Area Societies Development and Communications Committee (ASDAC).
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