networking.jpg   Is networking valuable?  You bet.  But there are ways to get more out of it than taking the traditional networking road…

As the Manageing Shareholder of a CPA consulting practice, I need a lot of expert advice on how to run the practice, let alone do the consulting.  One way to do this has been to play to my weaknesses.  That’s right… be vulnerable.  Networking is mostly about putting on a facade and asking for business.  Instead, I’ve been open to ask my superiors (in age and in experience) how to do certain things.  What rates do you charge?  How do you justify the value in that rate?  What course of action should I take over the next 5 years?  Or I just ask about a specific tax consulting issue, and let them give me the answer.

Take your contacts to lunch with a real concern about a part of your business that you are having trouble managing.  Ask them how they do it, why and what does and doesn’t work for them.  Strategically play to your weaknesses.

Playing to your weaknesses does three things within seconds:

1. Shows them you are not totally concerned with what you want to say.  You are there to listen – a huge skill that leads to trust (and REFERRALS!!).  And then, believe me, they start talking.

2. Makes them the “expert” in your eyes.  They are apt to offer guidance when they think you think they are the superior.

3. Shows vulnerability on your side and breaks down barriers of competitiveness between the two parties.

I started networking in college.  When outside speakers would come in to speak to our accounting classes, they would always offer to help us anyway they could.  I would always call them and ask them how to get a job or what a perspective employer will be looking for.  I asked them if they actually liked accounting.  I showed my vulnerabilities, and they responded (now, one of those contacts I took to lunch in college consistently refers me big consulting jobs!).

This is a new type of networking, but one that has consistently developed trust in the contacts I network with.  And that trust eventually leads to referrals.  Try it out and let me know what you think.

Thanks, Jason M. Blumer