To network or not to network?

Networking can be an effective marketing strategy for many accountants. It is the process of establishing personal relationships with individuals who could become clients or who are in a position to refer potential clients.

But despite its proven advantages, networking doesn’t always guarantee success for a firm. Although it can be an effective strategy, accountants should first determine whether it is the right strategy for their firm.

While good networking can build efficient relationships quite quickly, building personal relationships can sometimes be a difficult and time-consuming process. Occasionally, an accountant will ‘click’ almost immediately with someone due to common interests or similar personalities, backgrounds or education. In other networking relationships, it may take awhile for the firm to establish the right comfort level with a contact, and for them to view the firm as a “potential service provider”.

Just as a personal relationship needs constant care and attention to remain healthy, client relationships also need regular care and attention. Consistent follow-ups are required to help a firm’s network flourish. Accountants can do this by calling prospective clients and referral sources regularly, sending them articles of interest with personal notes or meeting with existing clients to review their level of satisfaction with your work. Not following-up can ultimately ruin all the work a firm has done to create that network in the first place.

Although networking can help accountants meet and establish connections with like-minded people, this marketing strategy requires time and high levels of dedication from a firm. It is not an ‘instant gratification’ style of marketing, and firms should carefully weigh up its benefits to determine what they will achieve from it.

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