“You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.” – Henry Ford
Over the years, I have spoken to so many groups of CPAs and groups of people who work for them.
I have to admit that I am disappointed that so many people always want to sit in the back of the room. Is it because they want an easy escape route in case I am overly boring? Is it because they actually want a place to sit and surf on their mobile device? Is it because they know it all already?
Actually, I think it is one of those weird human nature things. Just like going to church, the back pews always fill-up before the front pews.
I urge my session attendees to always set up front when they are attending CPE sessions or other learning opportunity sessions. I have actually observed some of them taking my advice the next time they are in one of my sessions.
Why sit up front? I have always done this because I want to observe the speaker up close. I want to hear every word. I want to contemplate their body language. I want to have them look me in the eye. Afterwards, I always would introduce myself to the speaker, maybe ask a question and always thank them for sharing their thoughts.
Why do I do this? Because they will remember me. And maybe if I have a question when I return to the office, they will answer my email. Maybe the next time they see me they will remember my name and face. Maybe they will enjoy having a one-off conversation with me and just maybe they will ask my opinion on some topic.
Want to be known as an expert? Hang out and get to know other experts.
Build your personal brand, one opportunity at a time. Sit in the front.
Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.
Sure, you are an accountant. So, people look to you to understand (and enjoy working with) numbers. They believe all of you are good at math and can do advanced calculations in your head.
You are a CPA, so clients take it for granted that you have prepared their tax return or performed their audit correctly. Your clients (and others) judge you on other things. Mostly, on lots of little things.
One thing, that is not so little in my mind, is how you write. If you are a CPA, or work in a CPA firm, grammar, spelling and punctuation are very, very important when you start typing out communications on that keyboard (or mobile device).
I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to read a lot of things written by CPAs and accountants. Most of it is in the form of communication, to me, and to others. Here are the common mistakes I notice:
Improper use of commas.
Lack of any punctuation at all, at times, even the use of periods at the end of a sentence.
Lack of capitalization – everything is typed in lower case.
Confusion between chose and choose; spelling chose when they actually mean choose.
Improper use of there and their.
Improper use of to and too.
Using your when they should be using you’re.
When I first started working in public accounting, I had the opportunity to work with a CPA (partner), who excelled at the written word. His vocabulary was way beyond my experience. I kept a dictionary close by. I learned so much!
I also, during the same time, worked with some accountants that made me wonder if they actually graduated from college based on their spelling, punctuation, and grammar.
Just be aware of how you may be judged. Take your time when writing. I think some of the poor punctuation and grammar is simply laziness or because you are in too much of a hurry.
Your grammar is a reflection of your image. Good or bad, you have made an impression. And like all impressions, you are in total control.
Not that many years ago, CPA firms never performed a background check before they hired an individual. I am pleased that most progressive firms now always do background checks as part of the hiring process.
Jason Quimby, Editor at BackgroundChecks.org sent me an interesting infographic to help you contemplate the disappointing fact that many people do actually falsify resumes.
If you tell the truth you don't have to remember anything.
My CPA clients and friends do a great job at making to-do lists. They are great list makers, in general. However, the easy things (like answering email) get crossed off the list and the more important, complex things go untouched – sometimes for months!
Then late October rolls around and firm partners all of a sudden get in a hurry to get BIG things done.
The article stated that the problem is our brains are actually programmed to procrastinate. We struggle with tasks that promise future upside in return for efforts we take now.
The article gives us some tips on how to make the benefits of action feel bigger and more real, such as:
Visualize how great it will be to get it done.
Pre-commit, publicly. (This works with weight loss!)
Confront the downside of inaction.
My advice…. take baby steps. Most of the big changes you need to make to help your firm become future ready can be broken down in smaller steps.
My friend, Carrie Steffen, President of The Whetstone Group, recently shared some news with me about a new blog series The Whetstone Group is offering. It might be just the push you need to enhance client loyalty. See below:
Success Strategies for Launching New Services
Many firms are looking for ways to combat the increasing commoditization of compliance services. Further, the landscape of the profession is changing and the next 10 years will require greater emphasis on advisory and other non-compliance specialty services. The path to client loyalty and topline growth is understanding how to meet more of clients’ needs—and continuing to innovate new ways of helping them. If firms can’t offer clients the help they need, you can be sure a competitor will.
In the next few weeks, The Whetstone Group is launching a blog series: Your Future Firm Starts Now: Success Strategies for Launching New Services. We’ll offer a systematic approach to help identify new service ideas, prioritize which services to develop, and package and launch these services. Readers will learn the important variables to consider in order to make informed decisions about where and how to invest.
“Quality performance (and quality service) starts with a positive attitude.” – Jeffrey Gitomer
It seems that EVERYONE uses texts to communicate now. However, that doesn’t apply so much to CPAs working in public accounting. Lots of business is conducted using email.
I like Jeffrey Gitomer’s sales advice…. “Email is sales-mail!”
I believe it is also part of building your personal brand. Do you ever misspell words? Do you confuse words such as “your” and “you’re”?
We all make grammar mistakes now and then but if you are trying to impress a prospective client be EXTRA careful.
Here’s some great advice from Gitomer – 1) Every email is an impression of you. 2) The best way to get an unsolicited email opened is to ask a question in the subject line that’s specific to the recipient.
If leaders are to be followed, it starts with clarity of message.
It’s September and I just received my copy of the 2016 issue of The Rosenberg Survey. It is the 18th Annual Edition. The Rosenberg Survey is one of the most popular and widely respected national MAP surveys for the CPA profession.
Comments and insights from many well-known CPA management consultants are included. Look for my comments on Page 21.
“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” —Ernest Hemingway
It doesn’t matter to me what you write for your clients (and prospects). Just do it. Write things that will benefit their business and their personal finances. I know you have a lot of things inside that valuable brain of yours!
Use a blog, a newsletter, a newspaper column, Facebook, Twitter, or even Instagram. Just get information out there!
I write this blog for my clients (and others) every business day and have been for nearly eleven years.
I check my spelling and grammar with something call Grammarly. Every week it gives me a report of how I have done.
Here’s the one I received this week:
5,844 words written – You wrote more words than 93% of Grammarly users did.
64 corrections made – You were more accurate than 66% of Grammarly users.
1,222 unique words used – You have a larger vocabulary than 96% of Grammarly users.