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7 Social Prospecting Tactics for Time-Impaired Accountants

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Jul 9th 2015
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Social prospecting makes all the sense in the world for people with undemanding jobs and plenty of time on their hands. But you are a busy accountant. You have no free time. What now?

The reason you have no free time is because your life is programmed for you. Your practice needs your full attention because it pays the bills. Clients may call spontaneously if you share your cellphone number. Your young family is involved in school sports and scouting. You attend religious services on weekends and monthly homeowners association meetings.

Instead of attempting to find time to do something new, apply these seven strategies to groups where you already spend your time.

1. Know everyone. Let's assume everyone needs tax help or knows someone who does. Maybe a friend of a friend is starting a business. What do people know about you? They can't volunteer your name if they don't know what you do.

Action step: Over time, communicate who you are, what you do, and why you are good. When meeting others, learn who they are, where they work, and what they do. If you take a sincere interest in them, they will usually return the compliment.

Cost in time: Virtually zero. You already belong.

2. Attend meetings. Visibility equals credibility, and you attend meetings anyway. Show up a few minutes early and chat over coffee beforehand. Stay a few minutes afterward and share opinions. Let people connect your name with your face.

Action step: If tonight's township meeting permits questions from the floor, ask a well-thought-out question. If the subject involves finance or budgets, briefly position your expertise.

Cost in time: Zero. You are attending anyway. How much effort does it take to ask a question?

3. Be a guest speaker. Many groups feature guest speakers to build attendance. You are an accountant. It's likely most attendees pay taxes. Their understanding is much smaller than yours. Here's an opportunity to raise your visibility.

Action step: Pick a couple of timely topics. Put together short talks in 15-, 30-, and 60-minute versions. Offer them to your group as part of their speaker rotation. It's likely most members belong to one or two more organizations. If they like your talk, they will probably suggest their other group bring you in. More visibility.

Cost in time: Building from scratch takes time. Does your firm have some prepackaged, preapproved topics?

4. Write for a newsletter. Many groups have newsletters. The chamber and your alumni association are good examples. They need content. Can your write?

Action step: If writing isn't your skill, find out if your firm (or professional association) has ghostwritten articles where you are allowed to add your name. Maybe you harbor a secret love for writing. Great! Make complex topics simple in 500 words or less. If the group already has an accountant writing for them, pen some articles about your hobby of rebuilding a classic car. In both cases, the byline gives your professional credentials.

Cost in time: Little or none if the articles are ghostwritten. If you are writing them, it's a different story. How fast do you write?

5. Solve a problem. Most organizations share three common activities: membership, event planning, and fundraising. One is usually in crisis.

Action step: You are getting involved at a deeper level; however, it's on your own terms. If you solve the problem or make significant progress, you are on your way to becoming an insider. People at the top know what you do and who needs help.

Cost in time: Considerable, yet you may be putting in the hours without choosing the projects. Now you can make an impact.

6. Advertise in a bulletin or newsletter. Community associations, alumni groups, and religious organizations often have bulletins or newsletters featuring business card ads as a way to defray costs. It's another way to constantly remind people what you do.

Action step: List the organizations where you commit time or donate money. How many have newsletters featuring business card ads? What do they cost? Sign up for several.

Cost in time: Almost zero.

7. Sponsor an award. Golf clubs, scout troops, and school sports all have awards dinners and trophies. Two people stand on stage: One beat the competition, the other hands over the trophy. Local newspapers take photos.

Action step: Which of your groups hands out trophies? What's involved in sponsoring one? Likely it's paying for the statue and funding a cash prize, if appropriate. How many years do you need to commit?

Cost in time: Close to zero.

The object is to raise your visibility with a large audience. Even for the time-impaired accountant, it still can be done quite easily.

About the author:
Bryce Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. in New Hope, Pennsylvania. He provides HNW client acquisition training for the financial services industry. His book "Captivating the Wealthy Investor" can be found on Amazon.com.

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