Leveraging and Maximizing Your Business Relationships
Let’s get straight to the point. The number-one reason most people start building a network is to grow their business. But, after some time in the game, you realize how much more building business relationships can benefit all aspects of your life.
Creating a solid group of qualified individuals from different industries with varying backgrounds opens your mind to new ideas, helps your clients grow their businesses, provides opportunities to fulfill your own personal goals and dreams, educates you on topics and places that weren’t previously on your radar, and, in the end, will naturally grow your business.
So, how do you get all these amazing benefits from your business relationships? When it comes down to it, your “team” is the most significant network you will ever build.
Here are four ways to build and leverage your team so that you can succeed both in business and in your personal life:
1. Find People
Surrounding yourself with people smarter than you will challenge your mind, expand your experiences and keep you in a mode of constant growth. The smarter people in my life have recommended books that changed my perspective, suggested visiting places that exposed me to a world outside my existing horizon and challenged me to listen and entertain ideas without the necessity of accepting them.
You may have to meet a lot of people before you narrow down who you want on your team, but I encourage you to find those who you enjoy listening to and who have a different perspective. You want to learn from your team, and they should want to learn from you. Find those who are like-minded in their morals and integrity. This is hugely important since you will be referring their services to your clients. If done right, these individuals will educate you and provide you with ideas and solutions for a variety of needs.
The best way to use that new-found knowledge is to help your clients overcome a challenge, meet a goal, grow their revenue or reduce their expenses. It could be as simple as using the merchant services person on your team to help reduce your client’s merchant service costs or as complicated as knowing the right attorney to assist your client through the sale of their business. In any instance, your consistent goal should be to leverage your team to help your clients. Not only will this deepen your relationship with your clients, your team will love the referrals and ideally think of you the next time they need an expert in your field.
2. Leverage Your Team’s Teams
A healthy team is a growing team, so when someone who is already in your network asks to introduce you to someone, take them up on their offer. If you spend time with your team, get to know one another and share in each other’s triumphs and challenges, they will have a deep understanding of your personal and business goals and will want you to succeed as much as you want them to succeed. Therefore, their introductions should be in line with your ideal contacts.
Keep in mind, leveraging and maximizing your business relationships is a two-way street, so in order to receive quality introductions, you must also give quality introductions. Again, this is another way to help your clients. If you are open to meeting new people, especially introductions from your team, these new people could provide fresh concepts and could be just the right fit to solve one of your client’s challenges. The more you use your network to help your clients, the more your clients appreciate the value you bring to the table.
3. Have an Open Mind
Another benefit of creating a team that you love is that it provides opportunities to fulfill your own personal goals and dreams. For example, I joined a women’s golf committee for two reasons: get better at golf and simultaneously meet some women to grow my network. On the committee was the director of a nonprofit organization that empowers young women through a program that incorporates running. I listened to her story about why she started this nonprofit and the stories of the young ladies who went through the program, and it moved me. Immediately she became a part of my team. She was looking for volunteers, and I was beyond excited to help. Being a coach for her nonprofit, Girls on the Run, was one of the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences of my life. Not only did this change me personally, but it has created opportunities in being asked to sit on the board of a nonprofit and join other professional groups.
4. Be Vulnerable
A relationship is only as good as the commitment you put into it, so if you want to be challenged and grow, you have to be vulnerable. Open up not only about your successes, but about your failures. Tell your team when you didn’t reach your goal or show them where you’re struggling. You’ve spent countless hours with these folks at breakfasts meetings, lunches and over cocktails, so you should know who to trust, who can help hold you accountable and who can support you as you grow.
This is why having a diverse team is imperative. One person may be more influential in helping you keep your networking goal, and another may be just the right person to make sure you leave by 4 p.m. every Wednesday to make it to your daughter’s piano lessons. Our teams are natural accountability partners, mentors and cheerleaders. Whatever your goal or need, it is exceedingly easier to fulfill your dreams if you have an accountability partner to answer to.
As accountants, be sure to include in your team other accountants, from various levels and firms. These individuals will serve as mentors, sounding boards and sometimes just a person outside of your firm who “gets it.” Become a mentor to a younger accountant, introduce them to your team and teach them how to build their own team. Happy connecting!
This article appeared in the May/June 2019 issue of New Jersey CPA magazine. Read the full issue.