Accounting firms rely on word-of-mouth referrals and networking to gain new customers. Social media can amplify your networking efforts by helping you build trust with a larger network of business contacts.
This article focuses on easy and effective ways to gain exposure for your firm by using social media to network while you are attending in-person and online events.
Encourage your staff to go to events where small businesses congregate, such as the local chamber of commerce. When they meet someone new, note the person's name and send a LinkedIn invitation. If the invitation is accepted, they can now send the person a direct message on LinkedIn to see if they need accounting services.
This initial connection on LinkedIn is very lightweight, a simple request to connect. Most businesspeople will want to extend their business network. Once the connection on LinkedIn is established, you can then ask if they would like to discuss your accounting services.
Other events where Bill.com accounting customers find new clients are:
- Women in business or woman leadership groups
- General business leadership groups specific to an industry, such as restaurant management associations
- Local meetups for a specific industry. Go to www.meetup.com and search for groups within your area. You can often sponsor these existing meetups for a few hundred dollars to cover the cost of the food. You can also host the meetup at your office.
It’s important to tie attendance or sponsorship of a physical event to your specific goals such as the number of new connections established on LinkedIn. Getting 1 to 5 new connections per staff and making an introduction to your firm’s services for each connection is a good start.
In the example below, note the three elements of the LinkedIn profile that you will be able to see after you’ve established a connection with a person on LinkedIn:
- Job title at company. You should ask your staff to keep their profile updated with your business and their correct title if they use LinkedIn for business development.
- Connections. This is a link to the person’s network connections. You can send your new contact a LinkedIn message to be introduced to their connections, or you can contact them directly and ask to connect.
- Direct contact email. This person has a direct contact email. If the email is not listed, you can send the person a message through LinkedIn.
For more ideas, join our LinkedIn forum for Bill.com accounting firms.
If you can’t meet a target client face to face and thus can’t use the LinkedIn technique effectively, you can use Twitter "tag and buzz" techniques to raise awareness of your firm at a specific event.
Set an event goal for your firm to get more business owners familiar with your team and firm. This will start the process of gaining their trust in preparation for direct contact.
You’ll need the following:
- A Twitter account for your firm
- Smartphone or camera and laptop with wifi connection
- At least one staff member attends the event and knows how to use Twitter
On Twitter, you can search for a person’s name to get their Twitter handle. If you can’t find their personal handle (it will look something like "@myname"), go to the main web site of their company and see if the company has a Twitter handle. You can also search for the company name on Twitter.
In the case study below, these techniques were used by Bill.com staff at a partner event.
Bill.com VP of Channel Partners Julie Lubetkin (@jlubetkin) attended an event sponsored by Intuit. Prior to the event, she checked to see who was attending the event and confirmed that she was following them on Twitter so that she could engage with them at the event. She also included her firm's Twitter handle on her slides (@billcom) to encourage attendees to tweet about her presentation.
At the event, people mentioned Julie and Bill.com on their personal Twitter feeds. In the example below, Valerie Heckman (@vheckman), a product specialist at Intuit, took a picture of Julie and tweeted it with a comment using her personal Twitter account.
Here’s another example of engagement with Amy Betke Ball (@amyontwit) at the same event.
Another technique is using the Twitter's "people tag" feature. When you upload a picture to Twitter, you have the option of tagging people, similar to how you tag a person on Facebook.
Give these ideas a try next time you or a staff member attend a business event.
To engage with Bill.com, follow us on Twitter @billcom.