Turning Strangers into Clients

Gina Deveney
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Growing a successful accounting practice happens one client at a time. New firms typically find their first accounting clients among their family and friends and through standard advertising campaigns. After that, they tend to rely on direct referrals. A stable and growing client base is the biggest predictor of the future success of your firm. Speed your firm's growth by learning how to turn strangers into accounting clients with these networking tips.

Network the Way You Build Friendships

No matter how proud you are of your accounting practice, no one likes a hard sell, especially not during social occasions. When networking at events, treat every new contact the same way you would treat a possible new friend. Look for common interests, and focus conversations on those areas. It is acceptable to mention your firm, but avoid sounding like a walking advertisement. Be sure to listen carefully and show interest in potential accounting clients as people. You are less likely to end up with a difficult accounting client if your relationship is based on a foundation of friendship and mutual respect.

Look for Introductions

The easiest way to network with strangers is through mutual acquaintances. Encourage your friends to introduce you to everyone they know at social events. Now is not the time to be shy; networking requires stepping out of your comfort zone. Regard each contact as a potential client, and cultivate relationships through mutual conversation. After establishing a connection, move on to another person. Not everyone needs your firm's services. Attracting new clients involves making a lot of new connections.

Use Appropriate Compliments

If you find yourself out of introductions, approach strangers with the aid of a compliment. Be sincere, and try to connect the compliment to the event. For example, comment on how helpful someone is or how you admire his work. If you really know very little about the person, a simple compliment to praise a distinctive piece of jewelry or clothing works. Extend the compliment into a conversation by asking a question. Eventually the discussion is likely to move to the topic of careers and a brief mention of your practice plants the seed for a possible business relationship.

Follow up

Suitable follow-up is the key to turning strangers into accounting clients. If you never provide contact details, you are likely to be forgotten. During events, try to intercept those people you spoke to earlier when they are leaving or near the end of the event. Briefly touch on one of the topics you discussed, and suggest keeping in touch. Share contact details as appropriate, and use those contact details to continue the relationship within a week or two.

Attracting new clients takes a bit of work, but the effort is worth it in the end. Grow a thriving practice by turning strangers into accounting clients through solid networking that starts with mutual acquaintances and honest compliments, and develops through conversation based on shared interests. Follow up with each contact for maximum exposure and plenty of new accounting clients in the future.


Photo courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net



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