We’ve all heard the jokes…
What’s an extroverted accountant? One who looks at your shoes while he’s talking to you instead of his own
What do you call an accountant who is seen talking to someone? Popular
What’s the difference between an accountant and a lawyer? The accountant knows he is boring
We think accountants get a pretty bad rap for being introverted, dull and more at home with numbers than interesting conversation. At Cardens we’re completely different to the old fashioned accountants who earned us this negative reputation. And what’s more, we think we’re pretty good networkers to boot! To prove it we are offering our top 5 tips for successful networking;
Rule number 1 – Be interested in who you’re talking to
There’s nothing worse than having a conversation with someone and feeling like they’re so self-involved that they may not even notice if you left. When networking it’s best to steer clear of great long Macbeth-style-soliloquys and instead get to know the person you’re speaking to. You’re much more likely to remember them and vice versa you if you chat about something other than the weather – maybe you like the same Thai restaurant or your children play at the same Gymboree? You want to be remembered, so make the conversation memorable.
Rule number 2 – Don’t do the hard sell
Your product, your services are great. You want to tell the world, (and quite rightly) but networking events aren’t the best arena for you to go full-throttle on unsuspecting strangers. Think about the key selling points you want to get across to people. Be clear and concise, and bring them into conversation when the time feels right. Try not to bombard people with 20 reasons about why they should switch to you there and then – the hard sell will put people off. Remember you’re all there to learn about each other so chatting about what you do will happen naturally – don’t feel the need to blurt out everything you know about your business as soon as you’ve shaken hands!
Rule number 3 – Have ‘open’ body language
This sounds like a cliché but it’s an important point; you want your body language to be open and inviting so people feel they can approach you. It’s hard to walk up to 2 people having a whispered conversation in the corner of a room or to break into a tight circle to introduce yourself. When you’re chatting one to one or in a small group keep your body facing slightly away – this makes it easier for someone to join you without feeling like an intruder.
Rule number 4 – Work the room
The number of contacts you can make or potential clients you might gain depends on how good you are at ‘working the room’. Some aspects of this are easy – don’t focus on chatting to people you already know; don’t waste time chatting to your competitors; don’t just grip on for dear life to the first person you met on the way in for the duration of the event. But working the room is harder than just steering clear of these obvious pitfalls…
– It should ideally start before you get to the event – ask for an attendees list and look for the people you want to make sure you speak to. Make a note of their names to or look them up on linkedin so you know which faces to look out for. This way you can focus on making sure you speak to the best contacts possible clients for you
– Don’t spend too long talking to one person. You never know who is in the room or who they know, so try and limit your conversations to 10 minutes. This way you’ll speak to the key people you decided to look out for beforehand but you’ll also get maximum exposure to the other people – you never know the best bit of business you’ve ever won could be in that room – you’ve just got to find it.
– Always, always, always have plenty of business cards on you. Don’t lose business because someone can’t remember your surname or your phone number
Rule number 5 – Be brave
We know this is easier said than done, especially if you’re new to the networking game. But everyone who goes to these events is there for the same purpose, so although it may look like everyone knows each other already or it seems a bit ‘clicky’ just take a deep breath and go for it. Remember, you’re just chatting – it’s not as scary as it looks.