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Cardio, Free Weights, and Client Prospecting: Tactics CPAs Can Use at the Gym

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May 1st 2015
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The secret to social prospecting is raising your visibility in different circles of people. The challenge is finding and penetrating new circles when your time is at a premium. Sometimes we overlook the obvious ones. Do you work out at a gym?

Consider Your Clients
It’s obvious fitness centers attract young people. Let’s assume your target client market is baby boomers with money. Boomers between the ages of 48 and 66 make up about 26 percent of the population, according to the Behnke Group, and around 57 percent of them exercise regularly. Need more convincing? Sixty percent of Americans participated in fitness sports in 2012, according to Gyminsight.com.

Best of all, this includes you. As a busy accounting professional, it’s difficult finding time to attend museum openings, yet you turn up at the gym three times a week and see many of the same faces over and over. Consider the number of people on the workout floor or using the cardio equipment. Regardless of the crowd size, there’s a core group of regulars. This includes you.

What Do I Do?
Poisoning the well is not on your agenda. You aren’t going to approach people for business while they are bench-pressing. Your approach should be subtle and easy.

Start with your objective. You want people to know who you are, what you do, and why you are good. Clothing can easily accomplish the first two. Buy some T-shirts with your company name tastefully written over your heart. If you are independent in practice, have a few shirts made up. Wear a logoed ball cap when the T-shirts are in the laundry. People will read your shirt and silently make the connection. They might even ask questions.

So far, you aren’t doing anything obnoxious.

Next, you want to gather some data. You want to know three things about your gym buddies: who they are, where they work, and what they do. We often make the assumption the folks around us are our peers. If you work for a large firm, they work for a large firm, too. From an accounting perspective, this means the opportunity is for personal business. Over the years, my various gym acquaintances have included two mayors, a property developer, television executive, and jeweler, along with the usual assortment of executives and state government officials. You can see the direct business potential or introduction possibilities!

How do you learn about them? It’s as simple as reading their T-shirt and asking questions. See that woman wearing a shirt with a long word composed of many consonants and few vowels? That’s probably the name of a drug. She might be a physician, or she’s involved in pharmaceutical sales. See that guy with a corporate run/walk event T-shirt with five company logos? Chances are he works for one of those firms.

Exercise often has two phases: working out and resting. Even when working with free weights, people take a breather between sets. That becomes your opportunity to exchange a few words. You aren’t being pushy; you are asking about the significance of the message on their shirt. They are advertising it to the world. Logically, they will ask about you and your profession.

Once you have gathered this data you can put it to good use. You see news stories about their firm. You can congratulate them. Are they new in their role, having just relocated from another city? Perhaps you can introduce them to some of your gym friends.

The Outcome
People prefer doing business with people they know. Assuming they are satisfied with their current accountant, they may know other people who aren’t or who have a specific need their person doesn’t address. Most people keep a mental Rolodex of people they know. They form their opinions about you based on social interactions and use this as a yardstick for your business competence. One day they say: “My brother-in-law has a problem. Would you mind talking with him?”

You are a professional. You don’t want to be pushy. Raising your visibility at the gym is an obvious opportunity you shouldn’t overlook.

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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The Accountant and School Sports: 8 Ways to Tactfully Raise Your Visibility
How Accountants Can Use Golf as the Gateway to Making HNW Connections
8 Ways CPAs Can Raise Their Visibility in a Country Club Environment

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