The two things you need to do to find prospects via twitter

If you are to have any hope of securing multiple new clients and introductions through twitter you will do so fastest if you focus your attention on one of two types of other users of twitter. That is either:

  • Those in your local area; or
  • Those who are active in a niche where your services are clearly targeted.

What do I mean by ‘focus your attention’? Firstly, seeking out those twitter users who fit the right profile and then, secondly, engaging with them. If you simply try to promote your services AT them you will probably alienate them – which would defeat your primary objective.

The ‘right profile’ for you will include those tweeters whom you suspect of being prospective clients and also potential introducers, influencers and referrers.

Why then do I suggest a focus on your local area? Simply that almost anyone looking for a new accountant will look for one in their area. The most common exceptions to this are those people whose business is such that they look for an accountant with relevant specialist expertise regardless of where they are based.

The easiest way to find people with the ‘right profile’ is by using the in-built advanced twitter search facility. You can set this to find out who is posting tweets that include reference to your local area and mentioning any other keywords that make sense to you. For example: Harrow, accountant, accounts, bank, finance, business etc

You can then check out the profiles of these ‘local’ tweeters and follow them on twitter. You can also check out, via their twitter account, who they are following and who else follows them. Again you can check the twitter profiles of such people and follow those that seem to be of interest. In some cases the twitter account will be a local business name – that makes it more difficult to engage with them. The same is true the other way around if you tweet using your firm’s name rather than making clear who you are as a person (as well as being an accountant).

Some of the people you follow will follow you back but this doesn’t mean they are interested in your services as an accountant. They may simply be curious or have a policy of automatically following back anyone who follows them. Personally I see little point in this, but some people do it.

Your objective now is much the same as when you meet someone at a face to face networking group or business event. To start a conversation and then, in time to decide, along with the other person, if it might be worthwhile to meet to discuss how you might help each other. Or maybe you could just arrange a skype video chat.

If you are too pushy or desperate your invitation will be rebuffed. Do not start by posting promotional messages any more than you would start a conversation with a new networking contact this way. It’s rarely a successful tactic.

Do bear in mind too that some people are on twitter simply for fun and will have no interest in meeting a local accountant – especially one that doesn’t standout in some positive way. But that’s another subject for another day.

What success have you had finding local tweeters or those in your target niche? Do add your comments below please.


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How to reveal all to the taxman

I was reminded recently of an article written a few years ago by Mike Thexton and published by Taxation magazine.

In the article Mike explained how he helped a friend who needed his help to ‘come clean’ re undisclosed earnings.

Mike said it all started with “the dreaded question”. This happens when someone asks for help in resolving a tax problem that requires knowledge and experience way outside your comfort zone. As Mike says, it’s because people tend to assume that accountants know about all things tax, just like they assume that doctors know about all things medical.

When I read this my mind immediately went back to a key paragraph in the’Guide to Professional Conduct in Relation to Taxation’:

“A member must not undertake professional work which he is not competent to perform unless he obtains help from an appropriate specialist.”

Mike complied with this advice and sought the input of a friend who chaired the tax investigation service at Baker Tilly, a top ten firm of accountants.

I’ve summarised below some of the key lessons drawn from Mike’s article:

  • “Do not do this by yourself if you have no experience” – This accords with the Guidance above and a key lesson from the recent professional negligence case of Mehjoo v Barker;
  • “Find someone who knows what to do. The client may baulk at the level of fees, but it is likely to be worth it in reduced trouble and penalties”
  • “What was unfamiliar to [Mike] was routine to someone who works in investigations.”
  • You need to address the underpayment of Class 2 NICs totally separately to the underpaid income tax and Class 4 NICs which were to be covered by the main settlement.
  • The relative speed of securing a full settlement with maximum mitigation of penalties when you know what you’re doing.

For others faced with similar situations I would suggest that the independent tax investigation specialist members of the Tax Advice Network should be your first port of call. 😉

I have also written a 10,000 word ebook drawn from my talk on How to avoid professional negligence claims, containing tips and risk management advice for accountants in practice. You can buy the book or download a summary for free here>>>


Lessons for accountants from….dating sites

I was fascinated to hear a friend of a friend bemoaning the challenge of finding suitable guys to date online.

The lady in question (we’ll call her ‘Brenda’) is looking for guys 45-65, but is routinely put off by their photos and their profiles.

It seems that few have thought about how to create the best first impression. And this is the lesson I want to share today.

It’s been a while since I blogged about how ‘You never get a second chance to create a first impression’.

Now it is perfectly possible that the guys who approach ‘Brenda’ are just as choosy as she is. Perhaps they want someone who will accept them, warts and all. For them maybe it’s best that they haven’t tailored their dating profiles. Perhaps there are women who look to date guys who think it makes sense to use a photo that shows them half drunk, with a pint of beer in their hand wearing a football t-shirt that is too small for them.

But I bet it would be easier for such guys to find their ideal woman if they posted more attractive photos and less self-centred profiles.

What impression do prospective clients get from the photos they see of you on your website and elsewhere in your online profiles? If you have a unique name try a google image search. Is the person you find looking back at you approachable and mature or stupid, sad or boring?

Does your profile describe you as the perfect date or as the ideal accountant? By all means include some evidence of your personality and outside interests. But remember your profile’s job is to evidence you as an experienced, able and approachable accountant.

My tip of the week then is to set out the adjectives and description of you that you would like to stress in your online profiles, website and photos. Now ask someone else to review your preferred photo and profiles. What adjectives and description come to mind? If there is a disconnect you had better make some changes.

You might try the same exercise if you are looking for love on dating sites too 😉

Related posts: How to build your personal brand and Online profiles – make sure yours isn’t boring

Related ebook: How to be more than ‘just another accountant’.


Is there a typical twitter user?

Regular readers will know that I’m a big fan of twitter and use it extensively. Equally I remain cynical about it’s business value to most accountants. I am always amused to note that most of those who challenge this view tend not to remain active on twitter for more than a few months.

Having said that I have explained previously how accountants can derive business benefits from twitter, to get started, what is and what is not worthing doing here. Today I am simply going to challenge one of the most common misconceptions I hear these days. It tends to be a variation on this theme:

“I don’t know why intelligent people like me would use twitter. Only trolls, idiots, pop fans, sports fans, kids, journalists and celebrities seem to use twitter. It’s full of egotistical people with nothing better to do than tell everyone what they are doing or eating.”

In fact there is no typical twitter user. Or if there is I am clearly only following those twitter users who are NOT typical.  Anyone can use it. Just like anyone can use a postbox or send an email. The difference is that YOU can choose if you want to see what other people are posting on twitter. If you don’t want to see any trash, don’t follow the people who post it. And unfollow or block anyone who posts stuff you don’t want to see.

The media frequently report usage of twitter that gives a false impression about how most intelligent people use twitter.  Before you dismiss the idea do check out what it’s really about and how you might actually enjoy it and even get some business value from what you choose to see on twitter.  You can join twitter and follow people you think might be posting stuff that interests you. Add more people and unfollow anyone who posts rubbish.

In time you can decide whether or not to start posting anything yourself.  Typically most users do end up posting their own tweets. But who wants to be typical? 😉

I invite accountants who have been on twitter for more than a few weeks to share below their views as to what they see as typical on twitter.

See the twitter tips page on my blog for more on how to use twitter