It’s a rare CPA or other professional services professional who got into their field to network and bring in more clients.  But it remains a necessity and so it is best to begin to train your staff for these skills early.  Below are a few ideas to get your staff training for effective networking skills started in the right direction.

Help Staff (likely introverts) understand the networking environment

  1. Focus on the quality of conversations wins over quantity.
  2. Listen and ask follow-up questions that are interesting to you.
  3. Be willing to share something slightly-personal like where you live or if you have kids.
  4. Learn to get in and out of conversations gracefully.
  5. Try to make your stories meaningful to the listener to maximize their impact.
  6. Offer something before expecting to receive anything.
  7. Join a committee so you see the same people each month.

 

Help Staff learn to tell a few stories

WHO:                          The client you are aiming at

EXPERIENCE:           Client’s problem/pain/challenge/issue

EFFORT:                    Your part of the process

SOLUTION:                The result of your effort

BENEFIT:                   Outcome and future advantage

 

Globally:  The answer to the question “What do you do?” is not “I’m a CPA”

 WHO:                                      “You know how some”

EXPERIENCE:                       “Which means that”

EFFORT & SOLUTION:        “Well, what I do is”

BENEFIT:                               “The benefit of which is”

 

You know how many family-owned businesses are transferring control of the business from the founder to the next generation which means that there are lots of stressful decisions to make about wealth transfer and business ownership?  Well, I have developed a method to help owners openly discuss the options and the related tax implications. The benefit of which is that the founder and the new owners will have a clear and amicable path to the future.

…then be ready with an example when you inevitably get asked!

 

Specifically:   Tell the story of a client you recently helped.

 WHO:                          One of my clients, a privately held restaurant group

EXPERIENCE:           wanted to expand but their bank wouldn’t approve the loan.

EFFORT:                    Using our network, we introduce the client to three local banks.

SOLUTION:                Two of the banks offered loan terms which we helped them compare.

BENFIT:                      The client switched banks and is now looking at the next new location!

 

I have given presentations on this topic and would be glad to speak to your group too!

 

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Alison has more than fifteen years of professional services marketing and business development experience. She is a Boston College Double Eagle, holding both a BS in Management with concentrations in Marketing & Information Systems, and an MBA. Alison is a member of the 2009 Boston Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 class of honorees.