We all know it’s a good idea to build up a list of great professionals that we can confidently refer our clients to, but we also want to ensure we don’t end up with egg on our face if they don’t a good job.
So, what should we do when clients ask for professional referrals and we don’t know enough people to help them?
Be choosy with your referrals
Don’t just pick someone because they are local or because they seem like a nice person. Find out what they offer that makes them unique, especially when there are so many others like them out there. Take the time to get to know more about them for yourself first.
Where do you find great referral partners?
Traditional sources such as local or industry networking events and word of mouth all still work well. If you are out there actively networking in and around your industry, you’re bound to meet people that you’ll be happy to refer your clients to. Also, keep an eye out for other professionals your clients may already be working with. You’ll get a good idea of their specialties and working styles, so, if you like what they do, ask for their contact details and add them to your ‘little black book’ of referral partners.
But, there’s another option you might be underutilising or not using at all, and that is LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is a networking goldmine
According to the Social Media Statistics Australia – May 2018 survey compiled by Social Media News, there are over 8 million registered LinkedIn users in Australia with roughly 4,400,000 users active each month. True, that’s less than Facebook’s 15,000,000 Australian active monthly users, but LinkedIn has always focused on bringing professionals together and helping them to make meaningful connections. So, why not leverage that?
LinkedIn is far more than just being a place to post your CV or to follow what Richard Branson and Elon Musk are up to, though. You can use it to build your own extensive network of quality contacts in your industry plus others. That is if you use it effectively.
Networking is always a two-way street. Just as you seek others, others will be seeking people like you, so you need to do everything you can to make sure those connections happen.
Stay active and get noticed
Here’s the thing, your clients and other professionals use LinkedIn as a search directory, so you need to make your personal and business brand stand out. They want to know more about you and what you can do for them. Do you have the skills and experience to help them? Will you be focused on their needs?
If your profile hasn’t been updated in years and doesn’t have a professional head shot of you, your profile page will be an indistinguishable drop in the ocean. If someone does happen to come upon your profile and it’s in that state, why would they bother connecting with you?
Here are our top tips for growing your connections through LinkedIn.
Get your personal profile right
As we’ve mentioned, a professional photo of you and an up-to-date profile page are a must, but that’s just the starting point. You also need to ensure you talk less about all the great things that you’ve done and more about how you have helped other people. What did you do that made a difference?
Recommendations at the end of your profile page can help others make the decision to connect with you. Don’t be afraid to ask people you trust to write a recommendation for you and be prepared to give them freely to others.
For more on this, check out the Talented Ladies Club article, Seven Simple Rules for a Perfect LinkedIn Profile.
Create a page for your company
Company pages can be set up to showcase the work of you and your team. Ensure each team member has their own up to date profile page so they can then link it to the company page.
Learn how to do this on the LinkedIn resource page Creating a LinkedIn Company Page.
Join professional groups in your industry plus related ones.
For Australian finance professionals, these could include:
- Bookkeeping Institute Australia
- Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand
- or, groups based on locality, such as the Melbourne (Australia) professional network.
LinkedIn has a handy Groups Directory to help you discover groups you may like to join.
Don’t just join these groups and do nothing, though. Get in there and start having conversations. Introduce yourself and offer genuine help to others when you can.
As you start building rapport with people, you can keep them in mind for the next time someone asks you for referrals and you can be more confident that your trust will be well-placed.
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Lielette Calleja was a guest host for Episode 58 of the From The Trenches podcast Bookkeeper – Friend or Foe? Lielette joined Paul Meissner while David Boyer was away, and together they not only probed many current issues surrounding bookkeeping but also around advisory, referrals and even Millennials. Be sure to tune into that episode as soon as you can.
Paul & David are passionate CA's who care deeply about the accounting industry.
Paul quit his accounting day job seven years ago and now owns and runs the Melbourne-based firm, 5ways Group Chartered Accountants, and his online Freedom Accounting System firm which allows him to travel and work from anywhere.
For the last 4 years, David has worked as a Virtual CFO. At the start of 2016 he co-founded the Virtual CFO Association and in December 2016 his company, Sequel VCFO began franchising to mobilise the experienced work force of accountants in industry and bring their expertise to SMEs.
Together with their impressive list of guest presenters, Paul and David are the brave souls needed to fight through the noise and give accountants in practice the support and information they deserve.
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