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A Step-by-Step Roadmap for Social Prospecting

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Nov 12th 2015
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Unfortunately, Siri can't solve everything. Sometimes you need a roadmap instead of turn-by-turn directions. You've bought into social prospecting and have joined a few groups. You attend meetings sporadically. How can you raise your visibility and get business?

My earlier article, 7 Social Prospecting Strategies for Time-Impaired Accountants, provides the building blocks. How do you put them together?

The Entry-Level Strategy
You are an accountant who is young, employed, and in debt with college loans. You want to utilize social prospecting but have little free cash. Your undergraduate university is either nearby or has an alumni club presence in your city. Your monthly luncheons and holiday events likely draw a core group of 20 alums, with another 20 or 30 attending holiday events. You get the emails. Here's your roadmap:

Step one: Attend monthly luncheons. Woody Allen said, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” Attend those monthly luncheons regularly. They see you regularly.

Step two: Get to know everyone. Over time, meet the core group and introduce yourself. Learn who they are, where they work, and what they do. Let them know who you are and what you do. Do some Google and LinkedIn background research.

Step three: Offer to be a luncheon speaker. Someone usually gives a short talk at these meetings. You have knowledge people usually pay to get. Keep it simple.

Step four: Volunteer your firm for an alumni telethon. Many schools use the classmate-calling-classmate model for fundraising. Working together as a group builds energy and enthusiasm. For this year's campaign, offer your firm's conference room. Buy the pizza.

Step five: Ad in alumni newsletter. Business card ads are usually inexpensive. Run one in the newsletter and, ideally, the national magazine. Include your class year. (Observe state registration rules.)

Step six: Pick a donor club level. Donors are invited to additional parties and events. Stretch your budget and join one that provides opportunities to mingle with well-off graduates.

Result: As a newcomer, you have gotten to know people, become a central figure, gotten people into your firm, and advertised. You've done it on a budget.

The Advanced-Level Strategy
You are an accountant with an established, successful practice. You belong to the best country club. You play a decent game of golf. You've met the club officers and the influential members. Here's your roadmap:

Step one: Attend social events. Clubs organize plenty of wine, steak, and themed dinners. Sign up for as many as you can, writing “Seat me anywhere” on the seating-request card. Talk with strangers on the buffet line.

Step two: Play regularly. Play early. Ask the golf pro if other players are looking to make up a foursome. Play with different people as often as you can.

Step three: Write a column for the club newsletter. Offer to interview famous members for profile articles. Compose a travel tips column. Your byline should include your name, professional credentials, office email, and phone number.

Step four: Do committee work. Something is usually in crisis. It might be event planning or membership. Work hard, and take it seriously. Become part of the solution.

Step five: Become assistant treasurer. Long-serving officers realize they are stuck in the role until they groom a successor. Your background speaks for itself. Being close to the money discretely showcases your professional skills. You are now an insider.

Step six: Sponsor a tournament award. Awards dinners are high-visibility events. As the award sponsor, you likely are also the presenter. Photos are taken and run in the club newsletter.

Result: You have met plenty of members on a casual basis. You've raised your visibility through your column and trophy presentation photos. As assistant treasurer, you've become an insider. You are associated with money and considered trustworthy.

If you are already involved, this is likely a marginal increase in the time and money you are spending. You've approached social prospecting with a step-by-step action plan.

Related articles:

7 Social Prospecting Tactics for Time-Impaired Accountants
8 Ways CPAs Can Raise Their Visibility in a Country Club Environment
How Accountants Can Use Golf as the Gateway to Making HNW Connections

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