Have you ever seen any of those TV panel games involving teams of comedians?

Sometimes there are two teams with comedians on each side and hosts who may also be comedians.

I’m thinking of programmes such as ‘Would I lie to you?’, ‘Mock the Week’, ‘8 out of 10 Cats’ , ‘Hypothetical’, ‘Unforgivable’ and ‘Have I got News for You’. There are many other such examples of such shows which feature multiple comedians.

‘So what?’ you say. ‘What can accountants learn about networking from this?’

Well, it occurs to me that these comedians all seem to be happy appearing on screen together. They frequently laugh at each others’ jokes and seem quite comfortable with their competitors being seen along side them.  They know that if anyone is looking to book a comedian for a gig or to host a private event that it is their personal qualities that will count most.

I’m simplifying things of course to make a point.

And that is that there is NO NEED to fear being in the same room as other accountants at networking events. I know some accountants who are only prepared to attend groups that limit attendance to one person per profession (as does BNI for example).  This is unduly limiting in my view.

First of all, you are unlikely to ever be able to have meaningful conversations with everyone in the room at a networking event. Secondly there is no point in racing around the room giving out your business card to all and sundry. As I have pointed out many times here: No one refers work to a business card.

But, most of all, despite your initial instincts, you not competing with the other accountants for work.

You are competing with them to build relationships with key people in the room.

Again, as I have pointed out many times, you are never just networking to secure business from the people in the room. You are also looking to be remembered, recommended and referred AFTERWARDS.

Most of the people you meet will take it as read, if you say you are an accountant, that this means that you can do all  the basics they assume every accountant can do.

You are not competing to be thought of just another accountant.  Just as comedians are not competing to make us laugh. They can all do that – otherwise they wouldn’t be on TV.

What matters most is how easy it is for other people to get to know, like and trust you as and when they or the people they know, need an accountant like you.

I’d suggest that making them laugh can help here but there is no need for accountants to start acting like comedians!

Incidentally, the members of my online Sole Practice Club, seem to ‘get’ this too. Admittedly few of them are based very near to other members. But what all are realising is that they are all different. They have different backgrounds, approaches, preferences, styles, fees and expertise.  If they were all at the same networking event and each spoke to the same people, they would each start building relationships with different people.

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