How to Network to Grow Your Business: 3 Tips for Profitable Networking

Networking is essential to any business, bookkeeping firms included. And when done right, it can be a vital tool that’ll help you scale your firm faster.

If you ask owners of bookkeeping firms about the idea of networking, chances are they’ll see it as a dreadful task. After all, it’s something that’s outside the comfort zone of the typical bookkeeper. But while dreadful, it’s a necessity if you want a profitable bookkeeping firm. Just ask Debbie Roberts, the co-founder of Pure Bookkeeping.

Having started as an employee, Debbie naturally didn’t have a clue on how to scale her business when she started. Someone mentioned the idea of networking, so she looked it up. The problem was that she wasn’t well-versed in talking the way she is today. That’s why the idea of networking terrified her. And for the longest time, Debbie built and managed her firm without networking. She just mentioned to everyone she knew that she was open for business and left it at that - she had to wait for clients to come to her. But once her sales stalled, she decided things had to change. It’s what led her to join a networking group, the BNI or Business Network International. And it’s a decision she continues to thank herself for to this day.

The reality is that in order for your bookkeeping business to grow, networking is a vital step. I even think that it’s one of the most valuable tasks a bookkeeper can do. And in this article, you’ll learn about the art of networking for bookkeeping firms.

The Investment Required to Build Profitable Relationships 

At this point, you might be asking yourself: “What do I need to shell out when I start networking?”

Well, the most critical resource you’ll need is time. The reality is that networking is all about building relationships that matter. And if you think about it, you can liken it to the idea of building friendships. Each best friend you have in your life has required you to invest time to develop the relationship. And over time, your investment pays off—you’ll have friends to rely on, people you can trust, and memories to cherish.

The same can be said, in a way, when it comes to networking. But when you invest time in building business relationships through networking, you don’t just do it to get referrals. You also go out there to help other businesses by finding opportunities and referrals for them. The right kind of networking results in a win-win situation for everyone involved.

The Biggest Networking Mistake That Bookkeepers Make 

When most bookkeepers start networking, they expect to see results as soon as a conversation ends. What they don’t realize is that building connections is a long process. One that requires months—or years—of persistence and patience to give clients or leads. There is no time frame as to when you’ll get the results from your networking efforts. That’s why instead of expecting too much too soon, you should have the mindset of “sowing seeds”, as Debbie likes to call it.

What this means is that for every person you meet and every referral you make, you’re just sowing a seed. Debbie said that you can expect it to bear fruit, but you won’t know when or where that’s going to pop up - just know that it always does.

The 3 Tips For Profitable Networking 

Tip #1: Learn to Build Trust

One of the most vital networking tips that Debbie stands by is building trust. She said that in the bookkeeping industry, trust is crucial because it deals with finances. And it’s something that’s very intimate for a lot of clients. Often, you’ll come across clients that need your services but are hesitant to reach out because they’re protective of their finances. After all, we’re talking about a part of their lives that they’ve worked hard to build, often from the ground up. That’s why when you’re networking, you must make the other person feel that they could trust you.

One of the things you can do to build trust is to have them try out your bookkeeping services. Then, once they’re satisfied with the experience, they’ll be the ones to refer you to other clients. It becomes easy for that new referral to trust you because you’ve been recommended by someone they already trust. 

Tip #2: Find a Good Group or Network In

Here’s something you need to know about profitable networking: The environment you network in affects how profitable your efforts become. Debbie has first-hand experience with this. As she mentioned, a large part of her success in business has to do with her becoming a member of BNI. This is because the organization had professionals and connections who needed her services. So, take a page out of Debbie’s book and join the right networking group. 

A group that comprises business coaches is a great place for you to join and start networking. It’s because these coaches have clients who need your help. Business coaches can advise them on what to do with their finances, for example. But those clients will still need bookkeeping services.

Tip #3: Always Follow Up

As they say, “The fortune is in the follow-up.” Unfortunately, this is an effective networking tactic that a lot of bookkeepers overlook. Debbie was different. She was able to turn a lot of her connections into clients and referrers simply because she mastered the art of following up. You see, it pays to follow up with people that you network with because it helps strengthen the bond you have with them. And as you continue to interact with them, it gets easier to nurture your connection to the point where they’re ready to get or refer your services. That said, here are some creative ways you can follow up with your connections:

  • Sending greeting cards on special occasions (such as birthdays and holidays)
  • Calling and chatting from time-to-time
  • Inviting them to grab lunch or dinner 

Don’t Let the Idea of Networking Terrify You

There are many ways to help your bookkeeping firm have the advantage it needs to thrive and succeed. But networking is a tool that can be especially profitable and effective when done right, and Debbie is a testament to how powerful networking can be. Remember, once you start networking, you’ll have more opportunities that will help your sales and bookkeeping firm grow. That’s why you should not let the idea scare you.

If you'd like to learn more about mastering your sales process, go ahead and: 

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Michael Palmer

Article by Michael Palmer

Michael is the CEO of Pure Bookkeeping, the host of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast and an acclaimed business coach who has helped hundreds of bookkeepers across the world push through their fears and exponentially grow their businesses and achieve the quality of life they've always wanted.