As a fledgling accounting professional, you know a lot, but you still have a ton to learn. One struggle for many young accountants is establishing relationships where they are considered trusted and valued in a professional capacity. Today we want to offer you some tips for positioning yourself as a valued advisor in your field.
Get to Know Your Clients’ Industries
Think about who you turn to when you need advice. If your sink backs up, you call an experienced plumber. Parenting issues? You consult someone who you consider to be a good parent. It is the same when a client requires advice about the issues that they face. They want to talk to someone who knows them, knows their business, and knows their industry.
In order to become this person in your clients’ eyes, you need to get to know their industry—and then communicate your knowledge to them. The first part is easy because the internet contains a wealth of free information. We suggest that you regularly read newsletters, blogs, and websites focused on your clients’ industries. Once you are fully immersed in their industry, you need to let your clients know that you are paying attention. Consider these methods:
- Bring up recent industry happenings in a conversation with your client
- Share a relevant article with them via email, along with your take on the issue
- List any industry association memberships in your website bio and on your LinkedIn page
- Attend industry events, especially ones that your clients attend too
Identify New Service Opportunities
As you seek to position yourself as an advisor who adds significant value for your clients, presenting them with new service offerings is a great method. The best part is, you already have all of the information you need to identify these opportunities. You know who your clients are—how long they have been in business, how much profit they made last year, what goals they are working towards. Drawing on this information, sort your clients into categories based on similar circumstances. Next, choose an area in which to pursue further services. For example:
- Pick out clients who have struggled to maintain a solid cash flow position. Reach out to them to offer business coaching sessions.
- Make a list of firm clients who are business owners nearing retirement age. Connect with them and ask if they would like to schedule a facilitated buy-out discussion.
Seek Out Advice from an Experienced Professional
Within your accounting firm, you are surrounded by experienced professionals. It is in their interest to support your career growth, because your success is the success of the firm as a whole. Consider reaching out to an individual who you respect and want to emulate, such as your manager, boss, or another experienced colleague on the career path that you are seeking. Ask them questions that are professional but also demonstrate personal interest. The goal is to convey your sincere interest—and adding in a touch of flattery never hurts. Try one or more of the following:
- What is something you wish you already knew or were taught early on in your career?
- If you could start over, what would you do differently?
- What are your big-picture career goals?
- What are your strategies for building confidence in new client relationships?
- Can you offer me some advice on how to serve clients well and leave them pleased?
Not only will questions like this result in some great career advice for you, but they will get you noticed within your firm for your desire to learn and excel in your career.
When it comes down to it, determined and consistent effort is what will help you transform into a valued advisor in the eyes of both your clients and your colleagues. It is a slow process, but certainly a worthwhile one. We hope these tips will inspire you to spend some time focusing on building your professional reputation.