The accounting community rocks.
Recently, I’ve had the privilege of managing Hubdoc’s social media channels and attending several industry events. I’m continually amazed at how special and supportive this community is. Advisors from all over the world are keen to share insights and tell stories that will help each other improve practice management, provide a better client experience, and get more fulfilment in their careers.
If you’re just starting out in the cloud accounting space, getting involved in the accounting community – i.e., proactively engaging with fellow advisors and forging relationships with your peers online and in-person – might seem a little daunting.
As advancements in technology continue to transform the accounting industry, it’s becoming more important for advisors to lean on their communities for information and support. Moreover, the community becomes even stronger when more advisors share their unique experiences.
To better understand the benefits of being involved in the accounting community, we sat down with Sherrell T. Martin, Chief Financial Solutions Officer at Nitram Financial Solutions and longtime social butterfly to learn how being an active member in her community adds value to her business.
Read on for three reasons to get involved in your accounting community!
Open doors to new opportunities
Building strong relationships is vital to growing your business. Getting involved in your community is one of the best ways to create new relationships and strengthen existing ones. Specifically, the relationships you form with your peers, prospective clients, and others will help introduce you to new opportunities that can take your career to the next level.
Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are a great place to start getting involved. Joining shared interest groups, participating in chats, and sharing content helps to build trust and develop real relationships that can provide value to your business.
For Sherrell, getting involved in the weekly #QBOChat on Twitter led to the Intuit Trainer-Writer Network, which has opened up tons of opportunities for her business. “Connecting on social media has allowed me to find out about new opportunities because of the relationships I have built,” says Sherrell. “One opportunity leads to the next, which leads to the next, creating a snowball effect.”
Strengthen your referral network
Every accountant and bookkeeper will come across potential clients that are not a great fit for their firm. Whether you're focusing on serving a specific niche or the client is requesting services that fall outside the scope of your firm’s offering, sometimes you’ll have to refer these opportunities elsewhere.
Having a strong referral network will enable you to confidently recommend their business to other professionals who can help. As Sherrell says, “If I can’t solve the problem, I like to be able to point them in the direction of someone who can.”
Getting involved in the accounting community will allow you to build a robust referral network by meeting professionals in and outside of your industry and learning about the services that they offer.
“Right now, it’s all about niches. We currently only work with creatives. If someone reaches out to me who is in construction or retail, I have a strong network of professionals I can refer them to,” says Sherrell. “Interacting with your community allows you to build trust with each other, which helps you refer each others’ services with confidence.”
In addition to referring business to fellow advisors, Sherrell also uses social media to build connections with cloud accounting apps. “It’s not only about recommending apps because of their features, it’s also important to be able to vouch for the people behind the app,” says Sherrell. “Connecting with the team on social media allows you to build those relationships and feel confident recommending apps to your clients.”
The more you put in to the community, the more you'll get out of it! Lend a helping hand wherever possible and you're likely to get business referrals coming your way, and maybe even be recognized as an advocate by your favorite cloud tools.
Attract the right kind of people
Small business owners are increasingly relying on their advisors to be their trusted business partners. For this reason, it’s more important than ever that you work with clients that are a great fit.
Getting active in your community gives you the opportunity to tell the world what your brand is all about! The version of yourself that you portray to your community (online and otherwise) should reflect your brand and the services you offer. For this reason, it’s important to define your ideal client and have a solid understanding of your brand positioning before you get started.
Determining your brand positioning (what differentiates your brand’s services in the eyes of customers) will allow you to create an effective content and social media marketing strategy that will guide the messages you convey to your accounting community. When you begin engaging with your community, you will be able to deliver more tailored messaging and get the right audience interested in your services.
Sherrell recommends being the real you when engaging in your communities and letting your personality shine: “I’m the exact same person in real life that I am on social media. It makes it easier for you to socialize and connect with your community on a genuine level. It also helps attract the right kind of people to your brand!”
If getting involved in your community is a little outside of your comfort zone, don’t worry – it’s easy to get started!
When Sherrell first started out, she was nervous to get involved and express her true personality for fear of saying the wrong thing. Through her experience, she learned that the first step to building your community is to just join in on the conversation.
“Find a chat that you can participate in, and start to interact! Start by liking a post or retweeting a comment,” advises Sherrell. “If you see something or like something, just post it!”
Start getting involved today – connect with Hubdoc on Twitter!
For more marketing tips for your accounting firm, download our free marketing checklist for accountants.
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