President Perceptive Business Solutions Inc.
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How to Become the Most Interesting Accountant in Just 6 Steps

Feb 4th 2015
President Perceptive Business Solutions Inc.
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AccountingWEB

We all have crosses to bear. Accountants are often tagged as "bean counters" or just plain boring. It's unfair and inaccurate, but the stereotype persists. Often people with detail-oriented personalities avoid coming across as the flashy salesperson. At a party my wife and I hosted we noticed one woman sitting alone on a sofa in an otherwise crowded room. I whispered to my wife. “She’s told someone she works for the IRS.” So what makes a person interesting?

Consider your audience. If you seek to socialize with senior executives, doctors or business owners, they are very similar to the beautiful people in singles bars. They are “hit on” all the time. They’ve heard every financial pickup line.

On the positive side, they are often making new friends. Think of Audrey Hepburn’s classic line in Charade (1963): “I already know an awful lot of people, until one of them dies I couldn’t possibly meet anyone else.” This rarely happens in real life.

What Makes a Person Interesting?

Your executive or captain of industry meets new people constantly. Why will you make an impression?

1. Interested in Others. In dating, people are obsessed with talking about themselves. If people love to talk about themselves, use this to your advantage. Example: “Thanks for sponsoring this exhibition of Rodin sculptures. How did you get interested in Rodin?” or “Congratulations on the acquisition of that software company. How do you see it fitting into your overall firm strategy?” Outcome: They enjoyed meeting you because they told their favorite stories.

2. Depth. Successful people know lots of airheads. They are also surrounded by people telling them what they want to hear. You need a diversity of knowledge. Are you reasonably smart or not? Example: “ You brought up the economic slowdown. The U.S. and U.K. economies are doing well. but now Europe’s having problems. Even Germany is having a rough time, according the The Economist.” Outcome: You took a position and referenced your sources. You are direct and well-read.

3. Experiences. Be able to tell a good story. Senior executives need to engage audiences. They appreciate the skill. Often when cultivating well-off individuals we want to be seen as fitting into their world and we exaggerate our accomplishments. They can tell. Charitable giving is a good area of common ground. It’s likely you are both givers (vs. takers) if you are meeting at a charity function. Example: “We support the arts in our community. Not on your scale, of course. We do what we can for the historical society and the symphony?” Outcome: By using their support for the event you are attending as your guide you have demonstrated you share the same values.

4. Tact. You can have a point of view, but don’t push it! You’ve just met this person. You don’t know if they smoke, own a gun, or vote conservative. Endorsing an extreme position can make you come across as radical. Example: ‘With all we know about smoking I think anyone who still smokes is an idiot. They are a menace to society.” Outcome: They may have been thinking about ducking outside for a cigarette. Now it’s an ideal opportunity to get away from you.

5. Sense of Humor. See the fun in everyday situations. Some people have naturally upbeat attitudes. People like them. They want to be around people who can roll with the punches. Example: “The cab driver who picked me up at the airport told me he had a second job as a bounty hunter! Imagine that!” Outcome: You made them laugh. People like other people who have that skill.

6. Local Knowledge. HSBC ran an advertising campaign highlighting the value of local knowledge. If your executive is involved in the community and attends events, she is concerned with local developments. Read the weekly community newspaper. Stay current on news like highway construction, development projects and school taxes. Example: “I’m glad the new bypass was approved. It will cut down on commuting time. More important, it will absorb the truck traffic and make several of those undeveloped properties that are zoned commercial a lot more attractive for manufacturing.” Outcome: You understand the impact of local votes and legislative decisions on the local economy. You get it.

Meeting movers and shakers in a social setting is very similar to dating. It’s not that hard to make yourself interesting to another person. Done well, it’s extremely unlikely they will find you boring.

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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