Are You a CPA Lost in the Land of Introductions?

December 19, 2011 at 8:09 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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In the world of business networking accountants are an interesting lot.

It seems that in almost every networking group there will always be one or more CPAs. Big firms mid-sized and solopreneurs too, by all appearances it seems that accountants recognize the importance and value of networking.

But let’s take a closer look.  (Disclaimer, this viewpoint is based upon my personal experiences and over 25 years of business networking:) )

We all agree that networking is clearly a two-way street.  I help you, you help me and together we grow our contacts and connections that will (hopefully) lead to business.

The introductions don’t necessarily have to be to direct clients but rather, introductions to referral sources are terrific as well. But proactive introductions are the name of the game.

And here’s where there seems to be a bit of a disconnect.  I know that accountants are integrally involved in their client’s business. They see the upside and down and are more than fully cognizant about revenue growth or decline, problems with attrition, management issues and more. They simply have to be knowledgeable in order to do their job effectively.

So, to my thinking if they are armed with these insights, wouldn’t it also make perfect sense for an accountant to introduce clients to various resources that can add value and (potentially) assist in the different aspects of the business that need improvement.

The introduction can (and should) be gentle. This is no “you MUST use this person to help you fix ______, but rather, the introduction is positioned as a suggestion and frankly, a value-added to the accountant-client relationship.

But in my experience and in the experience of many (most) of my networking contacts, these introductions are far and few between. In fact, introductions from accountants to possible referral sources are just as infrequent as those to direct clients.

What gives?

I think that I understand the situation. Accounting professionals will make introductions when their clients asks specifically for the name of a resource, like, for instance, an outsourced CFO or attorney. In fact, if an accountant didn’t have resources to recommend, the client might even question the paucity of their professional contacts.

But, if there isn’t a specific question, if the introduction stems from simply an observation of needs, well, it appears that many accountants don’t take the lead and make the connection.

Who loses? Well, the client for sure but also the accountant because, to repeat, good networking is reciprocal. People who provide introductions to the accountants in their database would appreciate introductions in kind and when they don’t occur, well the introduction flow stops altogether.

I understand the feeling of vulnerability that comes with making introductions. We all do because our professional reputation is on the line, and so, we are careful with our intros making certain to do our own due diligence to ensure that our introductions are solid and credible.

We also know that by making introductions we add value to our business relationships and therefore come to be seen as a true business resource.

I would think that all accountants wish to be seen in a similar light. It is only when accountants start to initiate networking connections with their clients and referral sources that they will be functioning as a true business advisor.

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