What if someone told you there was a room full of prospective accounting clients waiting for you? Would you be interested? Would you make every effort to get there? I know I would (and have).
Trade shows are occurring almost daily in every major metropolitan area in the world. These shows are full of eager businesses trying to sell their wares or services. To the marketing conscious accounting freelancer, it can be a gold mine.
But, before you assume I'm going to recommend you pay for a pricey booth as an exhibitor, read on. You certainly could become an exhibitor — I have. However, this is for the more experienced and those that have deeper pockets. Besides it ties you down, when you can be more productive out walking the aisles.
Here's a few ideas how you can make that hour or two at the trade show well spent:
Every time you go to a trade show, or other gathering of business people pickup whatever materials you can from those businesses that appear to fit into your client target. Try to keep the company's materials together so that you can review them later.
Talk to exhibitors about what they do and how they do it. Ask them what makes them different from their competitors. Don't be shy. It's amazing how much you can learn when you let them talk about their business. Besides, that's what they've come here to do.
Tell them that you are an accountant, then ask them how they could best help you. Usually they'll have some angle that can help your business. Whether they do, or not, you've opened the door to telling them more about yourself.
Look for opportunities to help them or their customers through some type of affiliation. For example, they may be a loan officer and their clients need help developing a loan package. Or, a general contractor might know of sub-contractors that need help with their books. The list is only limited by your imagination. NOTE: don't ask them if you can do their books because they're usually the sales people.
At the end of the discussion leave them a business card or two and thank them for their time.
Back at the office, study the brochures and business cards you picked up at the trade show. Write memories of the discussions on the materials while still fresh in your mind. Then, prepare a letter to each of those whom you talked with. Address it to them personally and start out, "It was a pleasure meeting you at the trade show. I know you met lots of different people. I was the one that _____________________." Remind the reader what services you perform, and restate your desire to help them or their customers. Include another card in case they misplaced the first one you gave them. Send these letters within 24 hours of the trade show for greatest impact.
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