Small Steps Can Add Up When Networking– February 20, 2014 by Paul Gregory

Ever attend a networking event to find that you are standing in the corner looking down at the ground and not wanting to engage with other attendees? You are not alone. Many of us are as uncomfortable approaching strangers as we are speaking in front of large audiences. I find this particularly true for those of us in the accounting profession! One tactic I often try is to seek out another person who is staring at the ground or looks uncomfortable. Chances are they do not have a large network and could be a great referral resource for you and your business. An added bonus is that you may make the person feel comfortable in a very uncomfortable situation and could introduce them to others you know at the event.

In addition to networking for your own gain, keep your clients in mind at the next event you attend. At Cohen & Company, we know that making business introductions is another way to provide value to our clients and show them we care. While an introduction may not always lead to additional business (but kudos to you if it does), it shows your client you have their best interests in mind and adds to the goodwill of the relationship. I try to get clients together at networking events to share stories and let them determine how they can help each other out.

A few basic pointers that have helped me over the years will hopefully add up to helping you find networking success:

  1. Keep notes on the business cards of the people you meet; get to know them personally as well as professionally.
  2. Find out what the person’s largest issues/pains are in their workplace/business and see if you can help.
  3. Find a common ground with folks, personal or business, and begin building a relationship from there.
  4. Use the six degrees of separation (think Kevin Bacon) and see what friends/business contacts you have in common.
  5. Utilize the internet. Sites such as LinkedIn are extremely helpful to connect to others and to see connections you may have in common.
  6. Stay in contact with the people you meet. The more you keep in contact, e.g., send a note with an article attached that’s relevant to their business, drop them an email seeing if they will be at the next industry association happy hour, etc., the greater the chance that professional and personal relationships will develop. People do business with people they enjoy being around.
  7. Ask a client, prospect or referral source to join you at a networking event and play off the power of both of your connections and/or networking abilities.
  8. Don’t be afraid to network with your friends, neighbors, the person sitting next to you at school events or other venues.

The more people you know, and even the smallest, yet frequent, interactions with them, the more chances you will have to cultivate new relationships that may uncover surprising opportunities!

We want to hear from you! We encourage you to share this blog post on social media or contact Paul Gregory at pgregory@cohencpa.com for further discussion.

This communication is for information only, and any action should only be taken after a detailed review of the specific situation and appropriate consultation.

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