This is the inevitable follow up to a number of recent blog posts here.

I am probably one of the most active UK accountants on what are commonly referred to as ‘social networks’.  I prefer the term ‘online communities’. Some have more of a social than business focus. Others are evidently only for business related networking. And some of these miss the fact that professional services (such as accountancy services and tax advice) are provided by INDIVIDUALS, not by businesses.  And People buy People.  The brand message, especially of the bigger firms, MAY provide a degree of comfort and reassurance but in the main the ‘sale’, the engagement and the services will be attributed to individual advisers.   RELATIONSHIPS are not built up overnight – whether in a business or a social context.

That’s one of the reasons why I am so excited by the developments in online communities. It’s also one of the reasons why I started my own in 2007 (The Tax Advice Network) although it’s not as sophisticated as the more mainstream communities.  That’s deliberate as I’d like to think that I know and understand my main target audience (accountants in practice in the UK).  I speak to thousands of them at conferences and seminars around the UK each year. I don’t sense very much real interest (yet) in online networking and online communities.  When it happens I’ll be ready for it – or maybe I will inspire it?!

For the moment there are a few sites that facilitate and encourage accountants to post blogs  (but see my expose of Blogging myths for accountants), to comment on current news threads and to ask and answer technical questions.

I’ll write about these in a subsequent blog. I’ll also discuss and highlight some of the non-accountant specific business and social online networks and how accountants could benefit from becoming more involved with these – and how to do so without wasting loads of time.  But there’s no rush. None  will become mainstream for accountants in practice in the UK in 2009 (for much the same reason as to why Twitter is not for accountants.

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