Why you need to tell people who you are – beyond being an accountant

Jun 29, 2021 | Business messaging and branding, Marketing and promotion, Networking, Referrals, STANDING OUT

No one is ‘just an accountant’. And you know that already. But how clear do you make this on your website, your online profiles and when you are networking?

Lots of accountants make the mistake of assuming they only need to evidence their credibility as an accountant. And it’s true that sometimes this is sufficient.

But not always.

Richard Jones on BGT

Richard Jones on BGT

Back in 2016 the winner of Britain’s Got Talent (BGT) was Richard Jones. A magician. And a soldier.

When interviewed after his win Richard explained that from the outset he was determined to be who he really is. He is a soldier who does magic. He does both. That’s his story. He says he was always going to involve his personal spin on what he did because that’s who he is. And that’s what he’s always done.

“A lot of magicians do the same kind of things, the same kinds of tricks. But something that people really connect to, when you’re performing magic, is if you come across in a more personal way. If you’re a lawyer and you’re doing magic, tell them you’re a lawyer and doing magic. I think that makes you more approachable. I feel it makes you more interesting because you’re not this guy who does crazy stuff, you are a real person, more on the level of anyone who’s watching”

When asked to help accountants to be better remembered, referred and recommended I make a similar point.  To reveal a little more of who you really are if you want to be seen (and remembered) as more than ‘just another’ accountant.  This is especially easy if you have an unusual hobby or interest. But that’s not the only way of course.

When I first moved into professional speaking I looked back over my own career. It was clear that I had long stood out from many of my peers and that this was a key reason why I had been promoted, headhunted twice and invited to join and Chair various professional committees.

Of course my experience and expertise within the accounting profession were also important. But what made me stand out from others? I can invariably trace this back to my willingness to stand up and speak in public, to present effectively, to communicate clearly and to engage with audiences. And these skills are a direct consequence of my interest in magic and the fact that I have used magic to entertain audiences since my early teens.

As an accountant and tax adviser I rarely felt it was appropriate to include magic tricks in my talks and presentations. As a professional speaker now it would be madness to avoid any reference to magic in my talks. And when I do this it helps me to connect with audiences who generally recognise they are seeing the real and authentic BookMarkLee.

I’m a speaker and a magician who originally trained as an accountant. That’s who I am. Sharing it, however briefly, during my talks helps me to STAND OUT in a positive way.   Using magic tricks to emphasise key points adds to the entertainment quality of my talks. It also help make them more memorable and me more referable. This all helps others to think of me as more than ‘just another’ speaker.

I always make a related point absolutely clear. Being memorable for something like your hobby, is NOT enough. I need to ensure that my audiences and bookers gain plenty of value from my talks. Standing Out alone doesn’t lead to repeat bookings and recommendations. Fortunately, I have plenty of these too 😉

It’s the same for accountants. Being remembered is not enough if someone is unconvinced of your credibility and expertise.

It can really help to let people know who you really are – beyond the fact that you are an accountant. I see plenty of accountants attempting to reveal their true selves on Linkedin, facebook and other social media platforms.  This often includes how they balance work and family life and day to day issues they face in this connection.

They’ve got the theory right although some, to my mind, might be revealing too much about their daily lives. And some clearly have far too much time on their hands – which suggests, to me at least, that they are not as successful as they would have us believe.

Getting the balance right isn’t always easy. And plenty of people seem not to have considered who might see and be negatively influenced by their ‘personal’ posts.  It can be easy to forget that the audience for your online posts extends way beyond real friends and people who know you well.

Personally, I choose to only share online stories and ‘chat’ that I would be happy to share with strangers I have met at a business networking event. “Would I be prepared to say this if I stood up at an event and didn’t know everyone in the room?” It’s a simple test and I commend it to you.

You need to be good at what you do to if you want to win more business and more work. But revealing, and maybe even embracing, who you really are can make all the difference. Richard Jones wasn’t just another magician competing on BGT. He was a soldier who was also a magician. And the first magician to win this annual competition.

Even if you don’t have an unusual interest or hobby there will invariably be some distinct facet of your life experiences or background you can share. Don’t hide who you really are. It can really help to let people know who you really are – beyond the fact that you are an accountant.

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