You have probably heard the suggestion that it’s important to help people get to ‘know, like and trust’ you. Only then will they buy from you. Only then will they even consider becoming your client.

This idea originated in the book ‘Endless Referrals’, written by Bob Burg, who said:

“All things being equal, people do business with, and refer business to people they Know, Like and Trust.”

This mantra is also shared at certain networking groups. The focus then is on encouraging you to make an effort to ensure you are easy to get to know, like and trust.

But I think this is too simplistic.

There are two further elements I believe that demand your attention. One at the start and one that can float around at either end of the chain:

Connect – Know – Like – Trust – Need

Connect: People may connect with you face to face (eg: at a networking event) or online. Such online connections will typically be established via your blog, your social media activity, your Linkedin activity or simply by a connection request on Linkedin. You will also generate connections when people get in touch after reading an article you have written or after hearing a talk you have presented.

Know: People can only get to know you after you have connected with each other (face to face or online). Typically they will want to know more than just your name and profession. They are more likely to engage you or to refer you if they have more to go on than this. How easy do you make it for people to get to know YOU? Your background? Your interests on a professional and on personal level? Which organisations do you belong to? What makes you you – as distinct from just another accountant?

Like: People rarely engage or refer work to people they don’t like. There are exceptions to this principle. We tend to refer people to surgeons if we rate them even if they have no bedside manner. And some legal work is best done on our behalf by really tough negotiators. But in the main, likability is key. People like people who are helpful, kind, informed, experienced and not pushy.

Trust: People tend to choose accountants they can trust in two ways: To know your stuff (do you have sufficient expertise?) and to be a decent person.

And here is the the fifth element on the chain:
Need: No one ever engages an accountant unless they need one. Equally they rarely go around recommending their accountant until they hear that someone they know needs one. If no one you connect with needs an accountant or knows anyone who needs one, you won’t get much work – however much they might know, like and trust you!

Where do advertising, social media, Linkedin, networking and other forms of marketing fit into this analysis?

At the beginning of course.

These marketing and promotional activities are simply a way to encourage people who currently or may in the future NEED an accountant to CONNECT with you. The easier you make it for them to appreciate that you have the skills and experience they need, the better.

Once they have connected with you, you need to help them get to know you, then to like and trust you. This is why I suggest that ‘Need’ can float around either end of the chain. If someone realises they need an accountant but doesn’t know anyone suitable they may respond to your advert or your other marketing promotions and connect with you. But otherwise the simple fact that they connect with you and engage with you doesn’t make them a prospective client.

When you recognise that there are 5 links in this chain you may be able to see why your networking, marketing and online activities are not generating the business or referrals you seek.

Are you meeting, engaging or connecting with enough people who need your services? Are you going to the right places? Are you active online in the right places? Are you encouraging the right referrals? Are you then helping your new connections to get to know, like and trust you – both generally and also specifically to do the work and give the advice they need?

If the answer to any of these questions is ‘no’, feel free to connect with me.

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