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How to make business networking work & enjoyable

Updated: May 30, 2023

If you've ever tried business networking and it hasn't worked for you, I'd suggest it's because no one has shown you how to make it work – the strategies and the detail. So if you've got limiting beliefs like, "I'm not good at business networking." Or, "I'm too introverted." Or, "I'm not comfortable with that.", then I'm here to help you smash through those limiting beliefs that are not serving you.

Business networking for bookkeepers

Okay, so business networking – IT DOES WORK. I have proven it. I've done it myself, and it can be really enjoyable. It can be lots of personal growth. And today, my aim is to help you with the strategies to do exactly that. My book will definitely give you more information, and The Strategic Bookkeeper Transformation Program will turbocharge that help.

Because business networking can be very powerful, we go into that in more depth in the program. We educate you, then we give you done for your assets around menu and other strategies that are really important to take with you to business networking. And then, we help you implement everything and then we continually support you to make it all work. Because as I like to say, the world never stops spinning. So your strategies cannot be static. As the economic and tech landscape changes, we are there to change with you in the program. Click HERE to know more.

So, most bookkeepers that I meet don't enjoy networking and they struggle to make it work. By the end of this read, I want you to be educated around WHAT makes it work, and I want you to be able to implement what you learn. Because if you do join a formal networking group or maybe you've already joined one, I want to make sure that actually first and foremost, you enjoy it and then you also make it work for you. You generate revenue and profit and delighted clients, and eventually, the privilege to live your dream on your terms. That's what it's all about.

If you've tried networking and it hasn't worked for you or you haven't enjoyed it, why? Now, you will already have decided why, but I want you to think about that right now.

Was it because you think you are not built for networking?

Or because you are not an extrovert?

Do you think that networking works way better for extroverts?

Maybe you thought the pressure of the structure was too much, or maybe you just blame the fact that people simply didn't refer to you. But then why does networking work for some bookkeepers and not others? I'd like to sum that up in three words for today, and that is CLARITY, STRATEGY, and CONSISTENCY. And we are going to look at those individually but before we do, I want to circle back to the extrovert one.

Business networking does not work better for extroverts than introverts.

I would say it may sometimes appear that it does in the short term because extroverts are generally better at the hustle, at getting out there and hustling and tap dancing and getting some runs on the board. But, that is not the key to success for the long term.

It's not the key to a profitable practice, and it's not the key to profit generally. It's often the key to some quick sales and some quick revenue, but whether you're an introvert or an extrovert, that doesn't change. What makes business networking work are the strategies, clarity, consistency, and strategy. In fact, the grandfather of business networking, Ivan Misner, founder of BNI, is an introvert! So let's just get rid of that myth right now.

I built my bookkeeping practice in the early days using business networking. In one year, I generated over $100,000 in revenue from business networking alone. So it can and it will work for you, but first, we really need to reset your thinking and give you the strategies around how it's going to work.

Let's start on clarity.

In terms of this, I'm going to tell you what doesn't work first. So if you are a really great skilled bookkeeper, so you're super, super skilled and you know exactly what you're doing and you're one of the top tier, top 20% bookkeepers, that is great. But if you go along to a networking event with just that... we'll call her Rebecca. I'm Rebecca, and I'm a great bookkeeper, and I'm going to turn up. And if somebody needs a bookkeeper, I'm in the networking group, they'll ask me what I do and I'll say, "Oh, I do bookkeeping and I do it really well." And then that will all work for me.

That is what doesn't work, because it lacks the clarity and the strategy.

You might be able to get the consistency piece where you turn up every week on time, looking professional, looking awake, not tired, you're playing the long game, all of those kind of things. You might be prepared for consistency, but I would suggest that you're lacking clarity and strategy because when you turn up to that networking event, the clarity you need is around WHO you serve and WHAT problem you solve.

And that clarity comes from nailing your brand and developing your menu. Those two chapters of my book, so you can just read those chapters along with the playbooks to allow you to actually develop your brand and develop your menu. And as I mentioned earlier, that's also all done for you in the program if that's what you'd rather have done for you.

So when attending your networking group, here's what's going to make all the difference: Showing up with a clear brand and the ability to talk to your business buddies

about the BENEFITS of what you do, rather than the features

Being great at what you do is different to the skills and experience required to run a successful business. You need sales and marketing acumen in order to run a successful bookkeeping practice. But the great news is you don't need to become a salesperson. I have given you exactly what you need in terms of sales and marketing for bookkeeping.

And I've said it before and I'll say it again, you are really a solver, not a seller. But in terms of sales and marketing, you need to be able to convey your unique SELLING PROPOSITION and the benefits of what you do, in order to be competitive and stand out, and to help business owners self-assess their need to work with you and choose you over your competitors without price as a priority. And your brand and your menu is the first steps to doing that. So you need to nail those and be taking them into the networking group with you. That is the clarity piece, and it's moving into the strategy piece.


In terms of strategy, let's first talk COLLATERAL. You don't want to go into a networking event without collateral, and by collateral I mean the idea of brochures and things like that. But I don't advocate for going out and creating six-page glossy brochures. You can do that, but these days people's attention spans are short. So the first piece of collateral that you need to create is your MENU, because it is nice and simple. You've got a one-page solution on there, which is very graphical, and then it just incorporates your vision and your mission.

So it's your why, your how, and then your menu kind of illustrates your what, but it's translated into a language that business owners understand and that helps them to self-assess their need to use you without price as first priority, and to choose you over your competitors. That really nice simple piece of collateral is the best place to start. If it's the only thing that you ever had in terms of collateral, it would still probably have the biggest impact.

You absolutely want to have that with you, but not only to just show to people. I wouldn't be just giving my menu to someone – this is like a translator. We've talked about collateral, let's now talk about LANGUAGE. At a networking event, it's great to have your menu in hard copy. So then you are able to actually sit down with people one on one or even in a group setting. You're able to look at that menu yourself and rather than rely on hustle and habit, because good habits are hard to form. And if you're a bookkeeper that's used to talking about what like all of us are, forming the habit of talking about why can be near on impossible.

Your menu's actually going to remind you to do it, which is so exciting. So then when you talk about what you do, this will translate it into why. And the language is so important because as I've said in my podcasts,

people won't buy what you do, they will buy WHY you do it.

And if you talk about what, they're going to think price, cost. When you talk about why, they're going to think outcome, benefit, yay, I'm not price-focused anymore.

So the third one is ATTENDING the networking event. When you go to the event, you're not going to find one client at a time. Your may do and that's great, but your primary focus should be to find a partner that has your database. So for example, you are going to meet business to business business buddies, like say a social media business, a digital marketing business, an accountant. And they are going to have all the clients that could use your services. So you go to a business event to meet a partner.

Now, in terms of how to make PARTNERSHIPS work, there is absolutely a deep strategy there, and I'm not going to go into that now because I've already gone into it and I'll point you to those resources. So number one, the book. So when you get to the attraction chapter, in there, I'll talk about evergreen advocacy partnerships, and then you'll have a checklist in the playbook that's in there. And there is also podcast episode one, where I talk a little about that as well. And the program, of course, turbocharges that.

We've talked clarity, we've talked strategy, let's talk consistency.

So the first part of consistency is just turning up every week or every fortnight and COMMITTING to the long game. So I've said it before and I'll say it again:

Success is found in the long game, not in the short game.

If you are going to join a structured business networking group, please see it as laps around the sun. So your first year will be where you get your foot in the market, and then year-on-year, it will just get easier.

So consistency first thing, turn up. Second thing around consistency is manners and etiquette and professionalism. So we are going to turn up looking professional. That doesn't mean you have to have a suit on. Whatever you want to be in terms of on brand for you, work that out and just make sure you turn up looking neat and tidy. And make sure that you turn up on time or early, and make sure that you have got manners and etiquette and make sure that you are professional.

I've always kind of liked to say that when I go to work, when I go to my business, and whenever I have worked in all of my career, there's two Jeannie's. So there's one that turns up at work because that Jeannie is professional. And that's actually for me, that's about respect. It's about respecting my clients because with my clients, I have a professional relationship. There's an exchange of money, and I need to respect that with professionalism. So that's a really important subject to understand and to really work on your professionalism. We don't treat our clients and our business buddies like friends at the local restaurant that we're having lunch with.

So then there's the personal Jeannie that loves to Latin dance and goes to restaurants with her friends. And even though I'm the same person, I don't have to be professional in my personal life. I can be silly and ridiculous. I can even say things that are really challenging to my friends. Now, I think that is just something I see bookkeepers struggle with. I see them let that professional edge slip away in their client relationships and they think it's okay. But I can tell you I've spoken to those business owners and they say, "You know what? I really didn't like that my bookkeeper did X, Y, Z." Even though they told their bookkeeper it was okay.

I can tell you right now, err on the side of caution and be professional, really professional, which is really, really easy when you learn just to put that business owner hat on. Don't put the casual Jeannie hat on if I'm using my name. Or let's say your name is Rebecca, don't put the casual friendship hat on.

Put the professional work hat on.

That's a part of consistency. Manners and etiquette and play the long game. So it's about turning up, listening, seeking to understand others before seeking to be understood, which is about introducing yourself, shaking someone's hand, looking them in the eye, seeking to understand, listening. All of these things that are actually quite easy will help you win the game of business networking, and win hearts and minds.

I'll jump back a moment to the strategy and the collateral piece – so, having your menu is absolutely number one as I said, but having your welcome lines ready is going to be really powerful as well. I walk through developing your welcome lines in the book, and I've also done a podcast on Product Ladder. Listen to that podcast to make more sense of it.

What I would suggest right now in terms of taking action:

absolutely nail your BRAND and develop your MENU,

but don't wait until you've developed your entire PRODUCT LADDER.

In the podcast I talk about making sure you've got your file health check. And you can have that ready in an hour or less if you focus on progress over perfection. Prolific not perfect.

You know how to do a file health check. You're a bookkeeper. It doesn't have to be perfect or totally structured. You're going to do your laps around the sun. You are going to refine you, and you're going to get better every single month. Just work on nailing your perfect version one of your brand. But again, progress over perfection. Same with the menu, progress over perfection. Just get whatever you can get out as fast as you can. Get to that networking event and practice it, practice the heck out of it at the networking event.

There is nothing like refining in the market itself, rather than back at the office

behind your computer and your keyboard where everything feels safe.

Now, if you would rather all of that done for you, we serve you up a done for you brand, and a done for you menu, and done for you product ladder, and lots more in the program. And I would love nothing more than for you to become a strategic bookkeeper by joining my program. You can know more about it HERE.

To finish up, I guess I would also just reiterate that business networking can and does work. I've proven it. It's the strategies. It's the consistency. It is the clarity.

I have met lifelong friends, lifelong business buddies, and lifelong clients through business networking. So it's worked for me, it can work for you. I have built this system for you as a bookkeeper, not for anyone else. Because I see too much stuff out there that's built for business owners generally and accountants, like advisory built for accountants. And I wanted to build something just for you as a bookkeeper and go deep into bookkeeper psychology, which is what I have done. This is built for you. So if you think, "I can't do this," that is not true. I want to help you smash through that limiting belief because I've built this for you and I continue to refine it just for you.


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