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Leverage your asset

I just love the web. There is such rich content if you know where to look. One of my favourite sites is inc.com – which focuses on the needs of entrepreneurs and business owners. A lot of its content is of great use to professional services like accounting.

Here is a wonderful piece on the importance of leveraging one of the most important assets any accountant has – relationships.

Ask any entrepreneur or salesperson (one might argue there is no difference) about their greatest asset and you’ll often hear the same answer: their network and relationships.

Countless bestsellers have been written on how to cultivate and nurture relationships.  Why is it then that we see so many people not taking advantage of the opportunities to broaden their network and engage with those who could potentially be their next great partner?

As our firm continues to grow and we bring in top talent from a variety of companies and professional backgrounds, we realize that each of us has a strong network of relationships that we aren’t fully leveraging.

Here are three ways to improve the way you nurture your network to get the most out of your professional relationships.

1. Focus on the value that you can provide to your network and not necessarily on what the person can provide for you. If you can provide value to someone in your network with limited time and resource investment, do it! Aside from the fact that it is a nice gesture, you can be sure you’ll be top of mind next time this person or someone in their network has a need that fits your area of expertise.

2. Being a relationship “broker” can offer significant benefits to your personal and professional brand. While you should always be sensitive to busy people’s time, simply making an introduction between two people in your network who share a common interest or challenge can do wonders for each of these individual relationships.

3. Don’t let personal fears get in the way of forming new relationships. It is far easier to talk to people you already know than it is to form new relationships. Explore the boundaries of your comfort zone to put yourself in a position to form new, productive relationships whenever an opportunity arises.  It is never an easy task, but proactively expanding your network can pay off in dividends for your personal and professional development.

It’s generally preferable to have fewer high-quality relationships than hundreds of low-quality relationships. By following these simple steps, you can begin to improve the quality of your professional relationships – a skill that is admired by many but mastered by few.

See http://www.inc.com/karl-and-bill/relationships-in-business-3-rules.html?nav=linkedin

See you next post,

James

Accountants – sell yourself!

As you will notice from time to time I like to bring you the best of what I’m reading around the place.

Here is an extract from a blog from entrepreneur.com (http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/220658) that is an excellent reminder that EVERYONE – tinker tailor soldier baker and accountant is involved in the art and science that is SELLING! So often I meet partners, directors and managers within accounting firms both big and small who see “selling” as beneath them – believe it or not.

As a business owner, you’re in sales whether you think so or not. Every day you have to sell yourself — and your product or service — to grow your business. If you’re not sure you have the personality to succeed in selling, consider these 13 simple rules to create a superstar sales mindset.

1. Stay hungry. Every good salesperson I’ve ever encountered is driven. They have a strong work ethic and a high energy level. They work harder and longer than their peers. When the economy is poor, they are still out there pounding the pavement, making calls.

2. Never compromise your integrity. I’ve always believed that telling the truth is the best policy. In business, especially today, it’s a must. A few years back, the Forum Corporation in Boston studied 341 salespeople from 11 different companies in five different industries. Their purpose was to determine what separated the top producers from the average producers. When the study was finished, the results were startling. It was not skill, knowledge or charisma that divided the pack. The difference came down to one trait: honesty. When customers trust salespeople, they buy from them.

3. Stay positive. Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude. Success is 90 percent mental. You can alter your life by altering your mind. In tough economies, it may not be your fault for being down, but it is certainly your fault for not getting up. You have to be a believer to be an achiever.

4. Be authoritative. Sales superstars know their products backward and forward. They also know their competitors’ products and are prepared to point out the differences.

5. Get prepared. I still remember the old Boy Scout motto, “Be prepared.” Well, it’s true. It takes a lot of unspectacular preparation to produce spectacular results.

6. Mind your reputation. You can’t buy a good reputation — you must earn it. If you don’t have a positive reputation, it will be difficult to be successful in whatever you do.

7. Be genuine. I have never known anyone to buy from someone they don’t like. Likability matters. Are you genuine? Pleasant? Easy to talk with?

8. Put your best foot forward. You never get a second chance to make a good first impression. Are you neat and well groomed? Underdressed or overdressed?

9. Set goals. Winners set goals; losers make excuses. Goals give you more than a reason to get up in the morning; they are an incentive to keep you going all day. They must be measurable, identifiable, obtainable, specific — and put them in writing.

10. Become a customer-service fanatic. I’ve often said the sale begins when the customer says yes. Good salespeople make sure the job gets done on time— and done right. There’s one thing no business has enough of: customers. Take care of the customers you’ve got, and they’ll take care of you. You must have a fanatical attention to detail.

11. Remember to listen. You can’t learn anything with your mouth open. For too many people, good listening means, “I talk, you listen.” Listening is a two- way process. Yes, you need to be heard, but you also need to hear others’ ideas, questions and objections. If you talk at people instead of with them, they’re not buying in — they’re caving in.

12. Keep it all in perspective. It is impossible to underrate the importance of a sense of humor. When there are inevitable setbacks along the way, learn to laugh about them.

13. Develop a thirst for self-improvement. You don’t go to school once for a lifetime. You are in school all your life. Sales superstars are constantly working to become better. They take courses, read books, listen to audiotapes and inhale everything they can to improve.

Bottom Line: A salesperson tells, a good salesperson explains… and a sales superstar demonstrates.

Nothing more to add here!

See you next post,

James E