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How to market yourself and attract business on LinkedIn

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 18 Aug 2021

LinkedIn is an easy way for accountants to network, recruit and pitch for new business, but what is best practice when it comes to demonstrating your value in the online community?

Mark Stonham is a marketing professional at Wurlwind who specialises in LinkedIn training and shares some pearls of wisdom with ICAEW.

“In business, a rainmaker is a person who brings in new business and wins new accounts almost by magic, since it is often not readily apparent how this new business activity is caused. It means generating substantial new business or additional cashflow from sources sometimes outside established business channels, sometimes by connecting with people in non-traditional or hidden markets, and sometimes by prompting current clients to spend more money.”

Whether you’re aspiring to partner or running your own practice then it is important to bring in your own clients and online networking is currently much more accessible than face to face networking. It may also suit introverts better than standing in a room making small talk while trying not to spill your breakfast down yourself.

LinkedIn is a numbers game, as it doesn’t have the certainty of an email list where you are already known. You have to get in front of your target audience at the right time and to stand out. The simplest way to get in front of your audience is by invitation from a mutual connection.

When prospecting for a large corporation, Mark recommends that you are purposeful. Know who your ideal client is and start to narrow this down to a list of specific organisations. Look at who you already know in that organisation or if you have any mutual friends in order to connect with the right person. With smaller practices you may want to make a list of 50 target businesses and then look for the easy wins where you already have connections or shared acquaintances. Ask for introductions and start up a conversation. 

Once you are connected to the right people you need to be producing the right content. Know your ideal client well. What are their issues, what causes them pain and how can you help? Your content should be focused on starting purposeful conversations. Your ‘relationship development strategy’ (sometimes referred to as a sales funnel) should engage and nurture your prospects until they are ready to buy and then continue to hold their loyalty and encourage their advocacy.

LinkedIn is changing, perhaps as the result of the pandemic. As people are showing more of their personal lives through Zoom they are also becoming more relaxed on LinkedIn. According to Mark “ the art of the posting is to recognise that it is a social network and to be professionally personable, or personally professional”. This doesn’t mean being overly familiar but perhaps at the level of chatting at the coffee machine where you might mention sport and family but not discuss religion and politics.

LinkedIn is a tool and what you want to achieve can dictate how you use it. The aim of your marketing should be to stand out from amongst the more ordinary accountants by displaying a particular skill, specialism or personality that will appeal to your target clients and to referrers. Create content around what keeps your ideal clients awake at night and their issues and aspirations. Then demonstrate how you are the go to person to help them with these. 

There is a challenge in telling stories that are not completely personal but have a professional edge to them. Good content puts a personal tale with a moral. For instance a story about a day out might be tied back to business with a comment such as “… what a great example of customer service”. Mark encourages accountants to use “the craft of the parables” as the combination of a story relating to the circumstances combined with a business message is really powerful.

Use LinkedIn to connect to the right people and then engage with them in a friendly, professional way so that you are the ‘go to’ person when they are looking for accountancy services.

Mark Stonham runs Wurlwind https://wurlwind.co.uk/

You can connect with him on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/markstonham/

You can also watch a relevant webinar from the Portfolio Careers Community How to identify your Superpower - and convey it through LinkedIn - so you Stand Out and Get more Referrals and Enquiries

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