Helping Your Young Professionals Build Powerful Relationships

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In this blog we usually address two types of marketing topics. The first focuses on firm-wide branding ideas and strategies and the second includes personal tips and insights for accounting professionals who are engaged in any level of practice development. Today I would like to take a minute to talk to you about a third topic,which is the support you can give to an occasionally overlooked group - your firm's young professionals. Your "under three year" staff is fresh out of school and just beginning their careers, typically focused on learning the skills and technical expertise they will need as seasoned CPAs, you need to remind them that they should be devoting some small percentage of time to developing their own unique relationships. Later in their careers they will most likely be expected to participate in business development, and if they begin that process early on, they will have more success over the years. Young professionals may be at a disadvantage because of their lack of experience, influence and connections. If you expect to measure their networking success by new leads generated, they are set up to fail. But if, instead, the firm simply asks them to strengthen ties with college friends, neighbors, family members and other young professionals they meet in the business community, then their 'success' will be judged by the number of meaningful and targeted relationships they build. Instead of failing, they will have a chance to get some traction and have some success. You must recognize that in the years ahead, these friendships will blossom into referral sources. If there is no expectation of an immediate ROI for the efforts of your youngest professionals, they will be more likely to take a chance, stepping outside their comfort zone and becoming more present in the community. You can help move this process along by creating specific opportunities to introduce your young professionals to other young people who are in the same career stage at nearby law firms, banks, financial planning firms (and others) so that they can begin to forge relationships now that they can nurture and cultivate over the next five to ten years. These tight bonds will ultimately evolve into powerful connections and be valuable resources for your firm over time.

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A well-timed article! Our firm is hosting an after-hours mixer tomorrow evening between our young staff accountants (up to 4 years out of college) and the commercial lending trainee group from a regional bank with which we have a strong referral relationship. We're having it on the kids' turf -- a Hard Rock Cafe -- and giving them some advance tips on how to make the most of it, i.e. checking out the other group's LinkedIn profiles, updating their own LinkedIn profiles and making sure they take plenty of business cards. This is a first for us, and we hope to do at least 3 more of these types of events for our young staff next year.