For many of our accounting firm clients, September and October can be as crazy a “busy season” as January through April. The fact is, almost every partner, principal or manager experiences several busy seasons per year, which often causes them to push the pause button on any networking or relationship building efforts.
While we encourage clients to market and network year-round and through busy seasons, we also recognize that there are going to be times when all networking efforts come to a grinding halt. After the smoke clears, possibly after several weeks of focusing on client work, many are left feeling overwhelmed, as though they are starting their networking efforts from scratch.
Meet with the attorneys, bankers and insurance brokers that have served your clients.
Chances are, you’ve just spent an incredible amount of time working through tax and accounting issues that impact other areas of your clients’ businesses, such as contracts, estate planning, financing, cash flow or insurance plans. You may have even had brief encounters with your clients’ other service providers during this time. Now is the time to further enhance your relationships with the COIs (Centers of Influence) that share clients with you. By offering to reflect on client work and brainstorm ideas to improve client service, you have created a compelling reason for that attorney or banker to join you for lunch. You can also use this meeting time to compare information about the similar clients you don’t share to see if there are opportunities to cross-refer new business.
Set up lunches with your top clients.
You’ve just gone through a stressful, but hopefully rewarding experience with your clients. Now is a great time to identify some of your top clients and offer to take them to lunch to reflect on that experience. Take advantage of this stress-free opportunity to reflect on lessons learned, identify any follow-up activities needed and to simply show interest in the long-term success of their business or individual goals. This is also the perfect opportunity to ask for a referral. Be sure to let them know how much you’ve enjoyed working with them and that you would like to find other clients just like them.
Meet with other partners or managers in your firm that serve these same clients.
Many client relationships cross between different services in your firm. Now is the perfect time to network internally; plan to discuss information that will help other partners and managers, as they get ready to re-engage with these clients. You can also use this time to meet with partners or managers that DON’T currently serve these clients, but whom you’ve identified as a cross-selling opportunity. Not only will you possibly open the doors for new business, you will also provide your clients with valuable introductions to other members of your firm that can help them achieve their business and individual goals.
These approaches not only provide low-risk and high-return opportunities to jumpstart your networking, they also provide additional, enhanced client service opportunities that will make you even more valuable to your clients.