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Posts Tagged ‘tips’

Part of my job as Managing Partner is to be out and about in the business community, shaking hands and telling people about the great things going on at Withum. Networking is an important aspect of building our pipeline of new business opportunities. Many of us have client and referral source relationships spanning over 25 years, having started with a fortuitous meeting and handshake at a local event or business dinner. While we are in the midst of ‘marketing busy season’ when events and conferences and networking dinners are filling up our calendars, I thought I’d share a Top 10 Networking Tips list I recently received from a colleague; it’s worth a read:

    1. Get in the right state, not “in a right state.”
      Keep in mind that you want to gain some value and benefit from the time you are committing to attending the networking event. You’ll need to look friendly and relaxed – versus panicky and nervous – if you want people to be comfortable talking to you.
    2. You will be more interesting if you are more interested.
      We have two ears and one mouth so we should aim to listen for twice as long as we speak. The people you meet will be more comfortable talking about themselves than listening to you.
    3. Networking is about building relationships not about ‘getting work’.
      People buy professional services from people they know, like and trust. You’re unlikely to meet someone who just happens to need your services that day. The magic happens when you keep in touch and demonstrate a sincere interest in them both personally and professionally.
    4. “What do you do?”
      Don’t pigeon hole yourself as any ole ordinary accountant, “I’m a CPA”. Practice answering the question in such a way that ensures you are remembered specifically and distinctly from all of the rest. This is called your ‘elevator pitch.’ Instead, you can say something simple like, “I’m an accountant with WithumSmith+Brown, one of the top accounting firms in the country. Have you heard of us? I specialize in . We work with many great clients in this area.” That’s a basic good ice-breaking introduction which you can follow up by asking questions about the person with whom you are speaking.
    5. Focus on a niche, not a list.
      Even those new acquaintances who are genuinely interested in you will quickly switch off if you try to identify all of the things you do or could do for clients. Equally, they won’t remember the list so you’ll be in danger of making yourself more forgettable. In the example above, you need to focus on a key area or topic no matter how broad your expertise and experience. People want to know more go-to people who have an expertise.
    6. Flirt as you network. Ok, not in way you are thinking, but by following these simple gestures to make you appear more likable:
      F is for FUN;
      L is for LAUGHTER or at least having a smile on your face;
      I is being INTERESTED in what other people have to say;
      R is RESPONDING to what other people are saying through conversation;
      T is TALKING appropriately not extensively about yourself.
    7. You’re not alone if you feel alone.
      There will always be someone else standing alone who will be so pleased and relieved if you go over and start a conversation with them. The chances of rejection are tiny. Simply introduce yourself, ask them their name and what do they do.
    8. Listen to what people say; don’t try to sell.
      You can only solve people’s problems or help them make the most of opportunities if you know what these are. That means listening and absorbing, not talking. If you listen well, they’ll trust you and if you ask the right questions, you’ll uncover all the clues you’ll need in order to decide if you have something to offer them.
    9. Get the other person’s name and business card.
      You can politely ask for someone’s card without seeming pushy, or wait until they offer their card to you. If you didn’t catch their name when first introduced, ask again. No one objects to repeating their name to someone who evidently wants to remember them.
    10. Follow up afterwards.
      Having given up your time to attend the event, make sure it is worthwhile by keeping a promise to follow up with each of the people you meet. Even if you think they may not be the most valuable contact, remember that you don’t know who they know who could be interested in what you do. Follow up with an email or supply some valuable information in the next day or so after meeting. Connect with them on LinkedIn. Then ensure you keep in touch thereafter.

I hope these tips will help you be more successful in your networking endeavors. By being subtle and polite, you come from a position of strength to follow up with your new-found friends/colleagues/potential clients to begin a lasting and meaningful relationship. So get out there and network!

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With several big filing deadlines now behind us, this time of year serves as a good reminder that our clients are the core reason why we are a thriving professional services firm. They need and require the services we provide, but choose to remain Withum clients. CCH published an Accounting Firm Client Survey which provided a list of top client responses as to why they chose to no longer work with their current service provider. I think it is a good list to review, although fortunately a few of the points are not applicable to Withum. But overall, it reflects what generally matters most to clients.

The Top 10 Reasons Clients Leave:

  1. The firm did not regularly check with me on my changing needs.
  2. Staff were not able to efficiently find the information needed to deliver the services I needed.
  3. I believe the firm was charging more than the value I was receiving. (note this is a PERCEPTION that we need to avoid by demonstrating value time after time)
  4. It became apparent that the firm was not leveraging technology to deliver the best services possible.
  5. The firm did not keep me up-to-date on regulations that directly affected me.
  6. I became concerned about the firm’s financial stability.
  7. The firm no longer specialized in the types of services I needed.
  8. I lost trust in the ability to deliver the quality services I needed.
  9. It became apparent to me that the firm was not acting as efficiently as it should.
  10. The firm had difficulty recruiting or retaining talented employees.

At Withum, we make every effort to do our part in the client retention process: by hiring the best and brightest talent possible; by providing education and training to our staff to keep them current on tax laws, regulations and industry knowledge; by implementing cutting-edge technology to provide world-class client service and client communications; and by conducting annual client surveys to keep a pulse on their needs. But the rest is up to you… the individual professional.

Regardless of how much pressure we are under to meet client deadlines, please be respectful of the valued relationships we have developed and nurtured with them, so that they continue to be clients of ours for many years to come. And in the event I can ever assist with a client relationship by meeting with them personally, please feel free to reach out to me.

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As shared in previous messages, I enjoy reading books, blogs and articles on leadership and business topics as part of my own professional development. They often serve as inspiration for many ideas and initiatives which are currently established here at the firm. One blog I find particularly good is Three Minute Leadership by Michael M. Reuter, speaker, author and a Professor at the Seton Hall University Stillman School of Business, and also a friend and colleague of our partner Tom Basilo who is an adjunct professor there, as well. I am going to share one of Professor Reuter’s recent posts, which I hope will provide some inspiration to you as we approach the finish line of tax season. Enjoy…

There comes times in the lives of all great leaders when they are pushed to their physical, emotional, mental or spiritual limits. Fatigued, exhausted and drained by their experiences, they still relentlessly pursue their journey. They never give up. It is their attitude and mindset to hold on to their hopes, dreams, determination and life’s purpose. Pause and reflect a moment on the words of other great leaders who shared their counsel and learning about giving up.

  • “When you’ve exhausted all possibilities, remember this: You haven’t.” Thomas Edison
  • “Never give up on what you really want to do. The person with big dreams is more powerful than one with all the facts.” Albert Einstein
  • “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 30 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed; I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” Michael Jordan
  • “Having a rough morning? Place your hand over your heart. Feel that? That’s called purpose… you’re alive for a reason. Don’t give up.” Melissa Joy
  • “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.” Vince Lombardi
  • “I ran and ran and ran every day, and I acquired this sense of determination, this sense of spirit that I would never, never give up, no matter what else happened.” Wilma Rudolph
  • “It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.” Babe Ruth
  • “Falling down is how we grow. Staying down is how we die.” Brian Vaszily
  • “Never give up. Go over, go under, go around, or go through. But never give up.” Tom Venuto

In those solitary moments when life’s challenges are pushing your limits, may you feel your power and purpose remembering the words of Bevan Lee: “’I am’ – two of the most powerful words; for what you put after them shapes your reality.” Be more than you ever dreamed you could be. Be also that one person in someone’s life who would say to you: “Because of you, I didn’t give up.” Be that servant leader of love, caring and hope. Life is so very good.

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