Most CPAs agree that their primary lead generation tool is networking. But there are only 24 hours in every day and by the time clients have been served and administrative tasks have been performed, there is not much left over for any networking.
As long as you remain convinced that networking is a painful activity, to be done only when there is "time" to squeeze in a few hours, you will never be able to build the meaningful relationships that can lead to quality referrals. Instead, I suggest you think of networking as essential to your existence. Think of it as a critical part of your firm's marketing and focus on the networking events that are most relevant, where you are most likely to have the opportunity to add and receive value.
Again, this is not about building your business card collection. Just like your basbeball card collection, the real worth is in people- not in the cards. Think about who you would like to know and formulate a strategic plan for meeting them. Networking is not about being present at every local event, spreading yourself thin and having a few minutes of conversation with as many people as possible. It is an important initiative, one that can be very powerful when executed correctly. So have a plan, make time, and begin the process of building - and sustaining - the vaue-added relationships that will ultimately be one of your best sources for lead generation.