Yesterday, I was speaking with an advisor who has a pretty awesome LinkedIn profile, and is now interested in proactively using social media for business development. His client base includes working professionals, so naturally, LinkedIn is a great place to begin networking. I suggested he review his clients’ profiles and connections to look for potential introductions and referrals.
However, in addition to working professionals, LinkedIn is a fantastic place to meet new centers of influence (or COIs); in particular, accountants and CPAs. CPAs are connected with so many clients for tax preparation and as such, they can be a terrific source of new business. If you’d like to get introduced to new accounting relationships and discuss how you share their vision of helping clients save money on taxes, social media is a tool you should consider.
There are many ways for you to meet CPAs and accountants via social media. I’ll break them down by platform.
1. See which CPAs (or other professionals) are within the networks of your connections.
Before you meet with your next client, peruse their connections to see what CPAs they are connected with. Simply go to the individual’s LinkedIn profile, scroll down to “Connections” and use the “Advanced Search “ feature and enter terms such as CPA or accountant. You’ll now be equipped to ask for a warm introduction the next time you meet.
2. Use LinkedIn’s advanced search.
Search your way to finding new CPAs. Be sure to remove your first degree connections – those will only include people who you already know. It’s helpful –and free – to select an industry, so for this purpose, go ahead and select “Accounting.”
The result will be a list of accounting professionals in your geographic location. You can save this search for future research (up to five for free!) and begin reviewing your search results. Begin contacting the individuals with whom you may have something in common – a connection, a school, a group, etc. Speaking of groups…
3. Don’t forget about local CPA groups.
In the Search bar across the top of your LinkedIn page, enter your state or major metropolitan area and the term “CPA.” You’ll be presented with a list of groups that may be of interest. For example, my first result was “Pennsylvania Society of Tax and Accounting Professionals.” You can participate in the group conversations and directly contact other group members – something usually reserved for people who you are connected with. When you are admitted to the group, the group will also appear in the group section of your profile, showing that you are interested in this field.
I love Twitter because it’s a great way to get news and connect with people who you know, as well as those you don’t. Here are some ways you can use it to identify CPAs and “talk the talk.”
1. Do a search on “CPA.”
You’ll see a long list of CPAs whom you’ll be able to follow and see what type of content they publish and who they follow.
2. See what CPAs are talking about.
Here are some good associations and publications to follow (Tip: follow these handles and organize them into a Twitter list to keep your news feed organized):
• Publications such as @CPAPracticeAdvisor or @AICPA_JofA
• State CPA societies such as @NJSCPA or the national organizations – @AICPA, @NASBA
• Niches of CPAs, such as @YoungCPANetwork
• Conferences CPAs are attending, such as @AICPA_SECconf and @AICPAconfs
Yep, I said Facebook. You’re probably on there looking at pictures, so it doesn’t hurt to “Like” pages and stay in the know when you’re there.
1. Follow CPA publications and organizations.
Here are a few: Accounting Today and the Journal of Accountancy.
2. Look up local CPA firms you’re connected with to see if they have a Facebook Fan page.
If they do, be sure to “Like” the page and comment and share the firm’s content.
3. Join groups.
Just like LinkedIn, there groups of professionals such as the CPA Mastermind Group.
It’s more than just connecting and liking
Joining and liking will only take you so far. You have to continue to nurture these relationships and provide value to the CPA. Here are some suggestions from The Oechsli Institute. But once you’ve established the relationship, LinkedIn and other social media outlets are great ways to stay top of mind with these professionals.
How are you targeting CPAs, both on- and off-line?
As you set out to launch your new firm, make sure that you’ve considered insurance as part of your checklist. Advisors who research and plan for insurance as a key component to their practice can create a significant advantage in both differentiating their firm and better serving their clients.
Amy Sitnick is the social media contributor for Practically Speaking and also serves as a senior marketing manager for the SEI Advisor Network. www.seic.com
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