In the world of accounting marketing, as in any marketing, building your network of referral sources and centers of influence
is critical. Many young CPAs are tasked with
building their professional network early in
their careers, but are not always given the necessary tools and training on how to do it.
Those of us who are experienced networkers know that one of the best ways to expand
and nurture our professional referral network is through regularly attending gatherings where net working takes place. These can
be as basic as Chamber of Commerce events
or the Rotary Club, or they can be more narrow in focus, where everyone in the room
shares a common industry — biotechnology,
Either way, the basic rules of networking
events remain the same:
1. Define your purpose for attending a
given event. Why have you chosen to attend
this particular event? Are you there to just
shake a few hands, exchange some business
cards and otherwise be sociable? Did your
boss make you go? Are you there only looking
to increase sales? For your sake, I hope there
is more to your attendance. Your purpose for
attending a networking event should be to
meet other professionals, learn about their
challenges and roadblocks, and then figure
out how you can help them. If you’re only
there for yourself, you might as well not show
up at all. Networking is a two-way street, and
the more you can help others, the more they
will help you.
2. Take care of your homework. Learn
as much as you can about who might be attending these events. Talk to others who have
attended in the past. What types of issues do
people in these occupations/industries/ge-ographies face? Are there recent developments that are in the news? Again, learn as
much as you can ahead of time. Read the
newspaper or business journal. Do a little
research on the Web. Talk to those people
Networking from the ground up
A primer for young
CPAs on professional
BY TIMOTHY ALLEN
Timothy Allen is founder and managing principal of Madison, Wis.-based AMG Marketing. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
already in your network who might have
3. Dress appropriately. Learn what the
acceptable dress is for the event before you
show up in your shorts and flip-flops. Remember, this is a business activity and should
be treated as such.
4. Know who you are and how you can
help. In many cases, you have less than 90
seconds to tell the person you just met who
you are and what you do. Not only that, but
you will also need to communicate to them
how you might help them. This is most often
called the elevator speech. Develop it carefully and practice it meticulously so that you
can communicate it clearly and quickly.
5. Learn to listen as much as you talk.
To be a successful networker, you need to be
able to listen to what the other person is saying — not just the words, but the meaning
behind them. Sometimes you will need to
read between the lines because the person
you’ve just met may not be as good at communicating as you would like. Practice active
listening and really learn to digest what the
other person is telling you.
6. Be curious and ask questions. Learn to
ask questions that will help you connect with
that person you’ve just met. Good, insightful
questions will help develop rapport and also
help you uncover some of the frustrations
and roadblocks that the other person might
7. Follow up. In order to be an effective
networker, you need to follow up with every-
one you meet. As with any other “market-
ing” activity, follow-up is the key to success.
In some cases you may wish to call and try
to follow up with a lunch or a meeting. For
others it might be a simple e-mail follow-up.
Either way, you need to follow up on that ini-
Here at Accounting Tomorrow, we love
hearing about events firms are doing to
support their young professionals.
Take Boston-based Caturano and Co.:
The firm recently held its first Emerging
Leaders Networking Reception, welcoming more than 70 attendees from accounting, and from the banking and legal
areas as well. The event was born from a
firmwide initiative to connect with banks
and law firms at the partner level (they
hold quarterly “Banker-Lawyer Dinners”).
But instead of keeping it for the upper
ranks, managing partner Richard Caturano recognized that his younger partners
and managers could benefit as well.
A LinkedIn group has since been set
up so attendees can stay connected,
network and, yes, plan for the next event,
which is slated for June.
Has your firm done something similar?
Let us know and we’ll spread the word.
In other news, Houston-based McConnell Jones Lanier & Murphy hosted
three junior high students as part of an
Annual Shadowing Day. The event was
in support of the Fifth Ward Enrichment
Program, a nonprofit organization that
works with inner-city boys. The students
received office tours, a company history
told by a founding partner, and one-on-one shadowing.
And accounting majors at Montclair
State University in New Jersey received
an earful of information on International
Financial Reporting Standards during a
recent Q&A session hosted by an audit
supervisor from Wiss & Co. During the
hour-long session, Jonathan Katz talked
with the students about the effects and
changes in the profession and touched
upon a wide range
and we love it!
How is your firm
summer? Got any
Send your firm
photos to tomor-row@sourcemedia.