Your Network Is Becoming More Valuable
With the integration of professional networking tools like LinkedIn into our daily life, your network of trusted business relationships and friendships is becoming a wonderful resource for new business.
With more than 500 million users, LinkedIn is a fast-growing professional networking website that allows members to create business contacts, network for job openings, and find potential clients. In other words, LinkedIn connects you to your trusted contacts, clients, and friends to exchange knowledge, ideas and opportunities with a broader network of professionals. Unlike other social medias, LinkedIn is the one platform that truly has a business-mind. When people are on LinkedIn they are thinking about their jobs, their business, and their profession.
In today's economy, people change jobs, change email addresses, and move more often so it's tough to stayed connected. Professional networking tools enable you to maintain your address book as your contacts update their own profiles and make it easier for long lost colleagues and friends to reconnect. This also makes it easier to find and connect with other professionals in your industry or local area.
Reasons For Establishing A Network
A network feeds new business and much more
Placing your network onto LinkedIn is an easy way to market your business and help local business owners find out about your accounting practice.
A network provides new knowledge
An established network is a resource to call upon to gain knowledge possessed by former colleagues, peers and professional advisors to save you time and money.
A network provides the opportunity to help others
Networking can be very rewarding for professionals who nurture the system for themselves and pay it forward. A key ingredient is not focusing on how to get the other person to do something for you; it's answering the question: "How can I do something for the other person?"
You need it - it doesn't need you
Unless you are assured that your existing clients will provide you with a never-ending stream of business, the need exists to expand one's network for the sake of one's economic future.
Your network is permanent
While we work in an environment where information, clients, service firm professionals, and entire companies change dramatically overnight, your network is permanent. Nurture it.
A network provides more control over what is said about your practice
LinkedIn is a wonderful way to control your brand name because it is often found towards the top of search engines. As well, LinkedIn provides your trusted network with a tool to recommend your services which will more than likely offset any negative posts that are posted online.
Staying In Touch With Your Network
1. Be attentive - When one of your network members receives a promotion or receives some favorable press attention, telephone the person with a congratulatory message. The best way to learn of key changes among your network is to stay in touch with them throughout the year and read local publications.
2. Calendar activities - By using the calendar creatively you can identify dates of importance to each important network member. A personal note at Christmas or other holiday can go a long way to separating you from those who do not take the time to write.
3. Remember the three c's: communicate - communicate - communicate: Do not neglect network members who are geographically separated. When traveling, telephone network members; stay in touch; ask if there is anything you can do to assist them to achieve their business agenda or their personal agenda. If you do not know the business and the personal agenda of members in your network, you cannot help them as you should. Be a "giver" not a "taker", and you will eventually reap the rewards of a well-managed network.
5. Remember the 80/20 Rule - This rule applies to more than getting new business from existing clients. Twenty percent of your network will likely provide you with 80% of your network's value. Focus your attention on the 20% most influential members of your network and you will reap more than your share of networking's rewards.
6. You never know when lightening will strike - We never know when a valued colleague or large client decides to move on thus creating an immediate need to replace that person. This creates anxiety in every business owner and is a key reason why we need to maintain a network of clients, peers, and other professionals who can provide you with a safety net.
Develop your network; maintain contact with network members; bring value to its members and you will reap rewards throughout your lifetime.
By Hugh Duffy, Build Your Firm
Hugh Duffy is the Chief Marketing Officer and Co-Founder of Build Your Firm, a practice development firm dedicated to the accounting profession. Build Your Firm works with small accounting firms providing accounting marketing, practice management and website development services. Hugh has 25 years of marketing experience and holds an MBA degree in Marketing form the University of Rochester. For more information, visit http://www.buildyourfirm.com/ or call 888-999-9800.