It feels like every year I make this same plea: As the current year winds down and the new year unfolds before you, be prepared for the fact that busy season, or tax season, will be rushing in like a fast moving train.
When the calendar turns to January, many firms are all in too much of a hurry to make the quick shift from a marketing and business development mode or culture to a "lock down" mentality . Unfortunately, no matter how many hours tax season demands, those firms that abandon their marketing efforts until after April 15 have a hard time getting back into the groove. In fact, for years the smarter firms have been even more actively involved in their business communities during the first quarter, taking full advantage of the fact that many of their competitors have withdrawn from the scene. Those who remain make their presence felt in a far less crowded field and in a far more powerful manner.
I have been in the role of professional marketer in an accounting firm for my entire career so please don't think that I don't fully understand or appreciate the challenges and the stress of havinig so much work compressed into such a tight frame. Tax season/busy season is no myth - I realize that. But the hard truth is that today what you do from January to April is as important as the marketing strategies you implerment from June-December.
It is more than just talk, though. To be successful, this mind set needs to convert into action, meaning there must be a real commitment from the leaders of the firm to be available as needed.
You should be willing to set an example.
Find ways to demonstrate that. interacting with prospects and centers of influence , as well as keeping in front of existing relationships with clients and colleagues, cannot be relegated to a back burner for two or even three months.
To manage this process and not get bogged down trying to burn the candle at both ends, you can set priorities. For example, attend only those selected functions that are within your areas of expertise, choosing to attend those events where you can give and receive real value from the exposure. Pace yourself as well as. In other words, delegate networking programs so that no one individual has all the burden. The more people involved during 'opportunity season', the less of a burden on each one, and the more impact you are likely to have on the marketplace.
Let me know what you think of this advice. Has it worked for you, or is it totally unrealistic to think that you can accomplish networking and relationship building during such a busy time of year? I'd like to hear from you!