I often hear from accountants how they don’t always feel like they get the most out of their networking efforts. Many are beyond ‘chamber after-hours’ and want more interactions that generate meaningful results. Strong referral relationships always start with a solid foundation. Building these relationships require proactive efforts; you must spend time outside of the office getting to know your potential sources. Once you have a good foundation, you must be strategic about how you can each get meaningful results from your efforts. This is where great referral relationships are born.
Networking events are a great way to meet new referral sources and prospects or nurture existing prospects, and the warm summer months are ripe with opportunity. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Par for the Course
The main and most used theme for summer networking is sports. Gathering for a round of golf or kicking back to watch baseball allows you to build your network and gain future business, and it also gives you the ability to get to know a group of people in a casual environment.
If you are at a sporting event don’t sit with or next to the same person for the entire round/match/game. Consider swapping partners or switching up the seating. Once seated, people tend to talk with their seatmates a lot – you don’t want to miss the opportunity to build a relationship with that person.
Sponsor a Picnic Blanket
Many communities host weeknight or weekend concerts, while some towns go all-out with block party-like festivals. These events are the perfect opportunity to host your clients. Make a plan to “sponsor a picnic blanket” before the set. Invite your contacts and their plus ones (or twos!) to join you at the event for a pre-concert meal.
If you live near water, consider partnering with a local yacht club so your group can try a new watersport, or consider chartering a boat for a sea, lake or river cruise. You’re sure to find networking success on the deck of a boat or through the camaraderie of learning a new skill.
When I was growing up I remember watching movies where businessmen would host one another in their homes. I feel like this is a tradition that has, unfortunately, gone by the wayside and a trend that we should bring back. There is something inherently personal about hosting someone in your home. And, who doesn’t love the nostalgic smell of a sizzling grill? Hosting a barbeque will help you provide the kind of environment that encourages laid-back conversation.
Small Group Networking Tips & Ideas
Whether you’re coordinating an afternoon tee time or trying your hand at sailing, be strategic with your invites.
- Don’t just invite your colleagues and referral sources.
- Consider inviting 1 client and 1 referral source, and then asking your client or referral source to bring another business owner/client they know.
- Socializing with referral sources, clients, and prospective clients is a great opportunity and can help facilitate great introductions. If talking to strangers is something that makes your toes curl, check out this infographic of 140-character networking tips.
Take advantage of these fun ways to nurture and forge great relationships while the weather is in your favor.