Networking

networking

How to Get Ahead: Whatever It Takes, Learn to Network

Ed. note: Don’t worry, I’m not working on my vacation. I wrote this ages ago for Accountingfly’s old blog and we’re re-running here. Let’s get something straight: I hate networking. I suck at small talk. The idea of “working a room” makes me wanna hurl. The word “schmoozing” disgusts me and you will never hear […]

Deepen Your Relationships, Enhance Your Success

This sponsored content is brought to you by The Siegfried Group. You hear it everywhere, all the time: To be successful, you need to have a solid network of connections. You hear it so often and emphasized so frequently, you might find yourself wondering, “Is this just something people say? How can I develop connections […]

How to Make an Impact at a Nonprofit

People join nonprofits for lots of reasons. Often it’s from a desire to give back to the community or passionately support a cause. Other times a person is new to the community and wants to make some connections. This often leads a membership in a local business organization. People exclusively looking for clients might join […]

Anyone Can Be Interesting, Yes Even You

It takes lots of courage to walk up to a stranger and start a conversation. You occasionally find yourself in social situations and come across really great people. You genuinely want to know them.  Perhaps they have business or career advancement potential, which is an added bonus. The opportunity presents itself and you must make […]

How Can People Tell If You’re Sincere?

You’ve heard the old joke: How can you tell when a lawyer is lying? It’s easy. Their lips are moving. Social prospecting within the HNW community is all about making the right connections. But there’s bad news: Because so many people have tried cultivating wealthy and successful people as business prospects and done it badly, […]

Holiday Party Socializing With No Regrets Afterwards

You will likely attend parties over the holidays.  Your own workplace party is like living in a fishbowl.  You feel required to show up but having much fun is often out of the question.  The only career advancement opportunities are getting senior management put a name to a face (yours) or showing good judgment by […]

Safe Subjects for Drawing People Into Conversation

Can you make small talk?  Today, technology has largely eliminated the need to walk up to someone and start a conversation.  In a recent TED Talk, Amy Webb spoke on “How I Hacked Online Dating," building a spreadsheet to quantify potential partners.  It worked for her.  But while attending a party, on vacation or attending […]

The Non-Golfing Accountant’s Guide To Hitting the Links

I once asked a female partner for career advice. “Learn to golf,” she told me. “Otherwise, you’ll get left behind when the partners and clients golf together in the afternoon. I was the best accountant on the team, but if I couldn’t swing a club, I’d get stuck back in the audit room while the […]

How I Learned to Stop Hating Networking and Love Mary Schapiro

A few months ago, my boss sent me to a business conference to learn technical stuff but mostly to network. If someone had told me years ago how much networking and ass-kissing the accounting profession actually involves, maybe I would have rethought my career path and become a statistician or something. The only thing I […]

Science Says Networking for Career Gain Makes Us Feel Dirty

Tiziana Casciaro at the University of Toronto, Francesca Gino at Harvard, and Maryam Kouchaki at Northwestern have done some interesting research for those of us who get the heeby jeebies from the thought of shaking all those hands in pursuit of strong professional relationships: networking makes us feel dirty. Fast Company reports: "We argued that, […]

Networking Tips for Young CPAs Who Think Networking is Stupid

In this day and age, networking can be as simple as sending a friend request to someone whose work you admire. But what good is it to amass a huge list of people you "know" if you don't actually use that list? In my line of work, networking is essential. If I need someone who […]

The Accountant’s Definitive Guide to Networking

Happy Friday, GCers. With summer events in full swing and summer interns about to pop up in your office, I thought it’d be a good time to talk about networking. As always, share your war stories and successes in the comments below. If You Are on CampusEfficient networking while you are still in college can […]

Recruiting Season Reason: Meet the Firms Basics For Complete Morons

You'd think I made this up but I swear I didn't, it comes from an actual recruiter who attended an actual MTF and encountered the following actual horrors. Let's open the floor on what NOT to do at Meet the Firms momentarily: How about an open thread for recruiter horror stories at Meet the Firms […]

LinkedIn Etiquette: Adding Professionals You Meet During the Recruiting Process

This one comes from the mailbag. If you're somewhat new to GC, let me break it down: I can help you with all things social media and the CPA exam. Salary questions and all that crap should go to our general advice mailbox but if you have a question about how not be an ass […]

A Partner Hopeful Can’t Decide Between KPMG and a Mid-Tier Firm

Welcome to the light-the-menorah edition of Accounting Career Emergency. In today’s edition, a lucky co-ed who is convinced she wants a career in public accounting has internship offers from KPMG and GT and maybe another from BDO. Multiple choice study skills won’t really help her so she turned us for our sage advice.

Is your career on life support? Worried that the long hours during the upcoming busy season might finally cause you to crack? Does your family remind you of Arrested Development? Email us at advice@goingconcern.com and we’ll have no problem crushing your brother-in-law’s dreams of playing with the Blue Man Group.

Back to the multiple choice exercise:

I recently received an internship offer from both Grant Thornton and KPMG in Chicago. I more than likely will be getting an offer from BDO as well. Unlike many who go Big 4 then jump ship to industry, I want to make a long term career out of public accounting (i.e., hopefully make partner some day).

I liked the supposed “culture” and the people at all of the firms, but now I can’t decide which one I want to go with. I don’t know if going midsized will mean quicker promotions, and somewhat better hours (relatively speaking), or if the Big 4 prestige is even relevant long term within the public accounting field. Please help me make sense of this…

Dear Partner Hopeful,

Pardon us but we’ll briefly delve into semantics for a second – “midsized” isn’t really representative of GT or BDO (we’re not crazy about mid-tier either but we’re open to suggestions) as they both have vast international networks. It is also true that the Big 4 dwarf GT and BDO combined so a moniker for the non-Big 4 firms (because that also sucks) could be the most important debate to come out of your question. But that’s a discussion for another day.

Now, then. We’re impressed that you have your mind made up that you want a long-term career in public accounting. That was our initial aspirations as well and look how that turned out. All we’re saying is, don’t get ahead of yourself and the culture will wane, trust us.

As for the Big 4 vs. GT/BDO question – for starters, the promotion pace will be similar no matter where you go. Besides, do you really want to get to senior manager in 5-6 years just to sit there for 10 more before you make partner? Our guess is, nofuckingway.

Secondly, don’t ask about hours. They will be long no matter where you go. Get over it.

The most provocative part of your question is related to prestige. GT and BDO rank #5 and #6 in Vault’s latest ranking, so it’s not like you’re working for complete schlubs. Plus, Chicago, as you’re well aware, is where Grant Thornton and BDO are headquartered. Conventional wisdom may tell you that KPMG is a more prestigious firm regardless of location and that very well may be true. But if you’re working in the HQ city of GT or BDO, you’re likely to hobnob with some of the most high-ranking professionals within those two firms. Not taking anything away from KPMG Chicago, but you simply won’t get the same exposure to the firm’s national leadership as you would at Grant Thornton or BDO.

Bottom line is that all the firms are solid and if you’re sold on the people and culture, you’ll have no problem fitting in at any of them. But if you’re concerned with prestige and building your network, it’s worth considering the opportunity of getting exposure to the bigwigs at GT and BDO.

Can We Get a Recommendation for an International Accounting Group Up in Here?

The following post is republished from AccountingWEB, a source of accounting news, information, tips, tools, resources and insight — everything you need to help you prosper and enjoy the accounting profession.

A few years ago we were members of Affilica – an international association of accounting and legal firms, who had a global presence, but not in North America. This was a particular concern because we specialise in helping US companies enter the UK market as their entry into Europe, and are seeking an alliance with a group that has a substantial North American membership.

But we are having trouble finding the right group.


Yes – we are members of BritishAmerican Business Inc, and do get referrals from the UK Trade & Industry, and from the UK /US Advisory Network, and from firms of CPA’s in the US who may not have in-house international expertise (Kevin Beare is an Associate member of the MSCPA), but we are growing and can see the mutual benefits of belonging to an international association.

We recently enquired about membership of CPAAI. To our surprise they said that our niche practice was considered too small.

However they were unable to say what size criteria a firm providing complementary services to their members needed to be.

We currently receive referrals from all 4 of the Big 4 firms, because they recognise that our total outsourced accounting and UK payroll service complements their own higher value services. We also get similar referrals from second tier firms. We do not have Chinese walls whereby one Partner does the accounting and tax and another partner does the audit of that work. For true independence and to enable us to act as trusted advisor to our clients we gave up our audit registration.

That is the background to this request.

Have other firms come across these difficulties?

Suggestions and advice regarding other suitable groups to join would be welcome.

Turns Out, CPAs Making Nice with Lawyers Is a Good Business Practice

The following post is republished from AccountingWEB, a source of accounting news, information, tips, tools, resources and insight — everything you need to help you prosper and enjoy the accounting profession.

There’s nothing better than a warm referral – and most CPAs are always on the hunt for new sources. One great potential lead source that is often overlooked is the attorney who practices in areas that are complementary to your expertise.

“I find that networking with attorneys is one of those few win-win opportunities for both of us,” said Steven J. Elliott, tax director at Schwartz & Co, LLP. “There are often many referral opportunities for work that the other professional provides.”

Elliott believes the attorney benefits in two ways. First, he benefits by making a known referral; second, by receiving referrals regarding a need for an attorney related to his area of practice.

Sound’s like a great win-win, so I interviewed a number of CPAs who have been successful in working with attorneys in order to learn about their best practices for developing meaningful, productive, mutually beneficial relationships.


How to build, cultivate relationships with attorneys

Howard Grobstein, a partner and leader of Forensic Services group in Crowe Horwath’s Audit and Financial Advisory practice, believes that best practices to build relationships with attorneys for business development involves two main components.

“First and foremost is providing high-quality work and exceptional service,” said Grobstein. “Attorneys have different styles and expectations, so CPAs should listen to what the attorney needs. They need to make sure they can present their expertise in a style that will be acceptable to the attorney and only take on those engagements where they can meet expectations, and perform with high quality and efficiency. My practice has developed because I make sure that I can do the project based on how that specific attorney works.

Importance of building strong, genuine relationships

Many CPAs agree that strong relationships are the real key – it’s better to have a smaller number of close relationships, than a larger network that is loosely tied together.

Jacob Renick, chair of the New York State Society of CPAs Litigation Services Committee, elaborated: “You can’t expect attorneys to send you business unless you have a very strong relationship with them. It has to be a one-to-one relationship. You’re better off having relationships with five attorneys rather than 30, if you have deep and solid relationships with those five.”

Mark Eiger, CPA, a New Jersey-based accountant, agreed: “The best way to strengthen the relationship between accountants and attorneys is to actually build a relationship. It takes time to develop quality referral partners. You’ll have more of an appreciation for the person’s work and capabilities if you get to know that person personally.”

What attorneys want

Renick emphasizes that attorneys are looking for someone to be honest with them, and to share their expertise and knowledge.

“If you don’t have the expertise, refer them to someone who has it,” he said. “Don’t be afraid to refer somebody – if you’re good, they’re going to use you. In addition, keep them up to date with respect to your expertise. For example, share recent changes you’ve become aware of, and give them a heads-up of what’s coming down the pike.”

Connect with attorneys who share similar interests, beliefs

Most CPAs I spoke with agreed that you’ll do best by connecting with like-minded attorneys. Michael D. Greaney, CPA, MBA, got a referral to a client by being in the same choir with an attorney. He talked to the attorney about law topics he had expertise in and figured out the two of them had a similar orientation toward the law.

“What clinched the referral is that it turned out that we share a natural law orientation from the Aristotelian perspective,” Greaney said. “An attorney will not feel comfortable referring a client to someone whom he or she thinks will not have the client’s best interests at heart, which means thinking along the same general lines as the attorney in ethical matters.”

Focus on serving the attorney’s best interest

Rob Siddoway with Cambridge Financial believes the No. 1 must-ask question to an attorney is: “What are the characteristics of your ideal client?” He then advises that CPAs do their best to find an ideal client for the attorney and make the introduction.

“After you have had a few lunches and sent a client or two to the attorney, set an appointment to explain what you do, the relationships you are seeking, and let them know what your ideal client looks like,” Siddoway said. “The focus is to give, give, and give some more without the expectation of anything coming back to you. The results of doing this are not mere referrals, but strong recommendations that generally lead to very good clients. There are those who understand giving first. You will quickly learn who the givers are, but always make it a point to give first and you will be successful.”

Good ways to initially strike up relationships with attorneys

Gail Rosen, CPA, recommended you do their taxes!

“The best way to get referrals from attorneys is to be the CPA who does the attorney’s tax return – then they do not forget you,” she said. “Attorneys have unique tax returns that include the tax treatment of costs recovered. If you learn about these tax laws, you will be in a better position to get attorneys as clients.”

Howard M. Rosen, a CPA with Conner Ash P.C., holds internal marketing events, where his firm invites a law firm to come to its office.

“We put together three or four 4-minute presentations on subjects the attorneys would not necessarily think of when they think about CPA firms,” he said. “If the attorneys are estate and probate specialists, we talk about how we can assist to ensure trusts are funded and that the plans make sense after time due to asset growth. If they are litigators, we talk about how we can help them build damage claims from business interruption, breach of contract, and so on. It’s unique, it’s fun, and it gets us business.”

John Sensiba, managing partner at Sensiba San Filippo LLP, believes the first thing you should do is find out who your clients are working with in order to get on the same page, and make sure the advice your client is receiving is consistent. This, incidentally, provides a good opportunity to meet and connect with their attorney.

Sensiba’s firm also has had great success hosting events for law firms at his office. These typically consist of 10-minute presentations from 5 to 7 p.m. about what the firm does and why it is different. He’s found that law firms generally are eager to attend; in the current economy, law firms also are very open to events that could potentially generate new business.

Howard Grobstein has had success getting involved in organizations that include attorneys with similar practices. For example, he became a member of the California Receivers Forum, and soon after became an officer and ultimately the co-chair. He followed the same track with the Los Angeles Bankruptcy Forum, and is positioned to take on additional roles within the organization.

“These types of organizations provide me with opportunities to attend educational, social, and networking events with attorneys who may need CPA consultants for their work. The goal is to develop a genuine relationship that runs beyond work.”

American Association of Attorney-Certified Public Accountants

The AAA-CPA is an organization of dually licensed attorney-CPAs, highly recommended by Tom Simeone, a partner at Simeone & Miller LLP. Simeone, a practicing trial lawyer and a dually licensed professional in his own right, has found this organization to be a great resource for connecting with new colleagues on the other side of the fence. The AAA-CPA offers a number of networking and referral opportunities for its members, and Simeone considers this to be his top source for generating new referrals.

Consider focusing on your niche practice

Andrew Schwartz, CPA, of Schwartz & Schwartz P.C., networks specifically with attorneys who practice in the health care field where 90 percent of his client base is located.

“We have the most success dealing with attorneys who also have a niche practice within health care,” said Schwartz. “We feel comfortable referring our clients to an attorney with a health care niche, knowing they will get timely advice and information.

“These attorneys know that they can refer their health care clients to us, and feel confident that we have dealt with other clients in a similar situation,” said Schwartz. “Our clients are happy that neither my firm nor the attorney is learning on their dime, so the common niche is the basis for the most productive relationships my firm has with a handful of the lawyers in the Boston area.”

Pay attention to estate attorneys (Hint: most Americans don’t have a will)

Kelley Long, CPA recommends connecting with estate attorneys, in particular, because they have more ongoing relationships with their clients.

“I’ve found estate attorneys to be easier to get to know – and easier to refer my clients to as well,” Long said. “Most of them do not have a will in place, and they are usually eager to speak with an estate planning attorney.”

Estate planning attorney Brian Raftery, a partner with Herrick, Feinstein LLP, works closely with several CPAs himself and concurs that the majority of Americans do not have a will in place. He tries to refer his clients to CPAs if he sees a need for professional tax assistance.

“I always look for issues my clients face that can potentially be resolved if the proper professional is brought into place,” said Raftery, who often spots obvious opportunities when his high net-worth clients are filing their own tax returns via TurboTax.

“When I see an opportunity, I try to match up my clients not only with the appropriate skill need, but also I do my best to ensure a proper personality fit.” As a result, Raftery concurs with his fellow CPAs in the need to not only align professional goals, but also personal beliefs and philosophies.

What to do when you get a referral

This is another area where everyone we spoke with agreed emphatically – go above and beyond the call of duty when you receive a referral.

Joe Epps, of Epps CPA Consulting, cited this as his top piece of advice: “You’ve got to give top quality service. It’s extremely important to do a very professional job when you do get a referral.”

Renick agreed – and adds that if you don’t have the expertise, or are conflicted out of the engagement, you should refer someone. “Don’t be afraid to refer somebody. If you’re good, they’re going to use you.”

About the author:
Brett Owens is CEO and co-founder of Chrometa, a Sacramento, CA-based provider of time-tracking software that records activity in real time. Previously marketed to only the legal community, Chrometa is branching out to accounting prospects. Gains include the ability to discover previously undocumented billable time, saving time on billing reconciliation and improving personal productivity. Owens also is a blogger and founder at ContraryInvesting.com, as well as a regular contributor to two leading financial media sites, SeekingAlpha.com and Minyanville.