If you are a PA accountant or CPA and want to keep your current list of clients as well as find new ones, developing your reputation is essential. You have to put at least some effort into it in order to stay in business. But to really grow, you’ll need a plan. Being recognized as an expert or thought leader will build your reputation and grow your business if you do it right. Take time to develop your strategy first in order to have the most return on time invested.
Start by asking yourself key questions to help you plan your approach:
- What areas of expertise do you and members of your staff have?
- How much time do you have to devote to thought leadership?
- What niche or services do you want to focus on?
- Do you want your practice to grow locally, with mostly local clients, or nationally, providing services to clients in other states or other parts of the state?
- Who is your ideal client? Industry, personality, company size, types of services, etc.
- On what online platforms or local locations will you best find your ideal clients?
- What sets your firm apart from your competition?
With these questions answered, you can begin to plan your strategy and then implement it.
Steps to building your reputation as an expert or thought leader
In asking and answering these questions, you should have determined how much time and energy you are able to invest in developing your reputation as an expert. Try to implement at least several of the following suggestions, more if you have the talent, resources, and time. If you have staff members who have certain expertise, enlist them in the effort, as well. You don’t have to do it all yourself.
Develop networks: Networking well is about two things: 1) growing your skills and knowledge base so you can provide ever-improving service, and 2) developing a positive relationship with many people so that when they need someone, they think of you.
Networking groups often ask experts within the group to talk about what they do or share their insights on current events or industry trends. By speaking at such meetings, you will begin to brand yourself as a thought leader in your field.
Provide seminars: Offer to give talks and presentations on your niche or expertise. Consider your local Better Business Bureau, libraries, senior clubs, 50+ housing communities, and banks as organizations in your area that could offer talks about important finance-related topics.
Offer regular newsletters, blogs, etc.: You should already be providing some sort of regular communication to your existing clients. You could expand this to a regular newsletter or blog on your website.
Consider podcasts, webinars, etc.: Podcasts and webinars increase the accessibility of your expertise and can be linked on your website so that your talks are easily accessed and searchable.
Share on social media: Any and all of these communications should be shared on social media. Think about which platforms your ideal clients utilize and build engagement on those sites. There are too many platforms for you to do all of them well unless you invest in a content management service or a communications coordinator. But sending out tweets, Facebook updates, or LinkedIn posts on a regular basis, linking to your latest blog or podcast, can significantly grow your reach. And remember – much of the content you put online should link back to your website.
Get involved in local non-profits or charitable activities: Not only will you feel good about helping, but a reputation for service to the local community will bring more clients into your firm. You’ll meet people in the area who need your services, and you’ll learn about other industries through other volunteers. Take the opportunity to provide simple advice based on your areas of expertise and they will likely come to you for more help if they need it.
In summary, take the time to evaluate where your expertise lies and then implement a plan to communicate your knowledge to the target audience that is most likely to provide you with the most return on your investment.
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