Many independent user groups for the above programs and other software have also found their way online. Generally created by individual users on social networking websites such as Yahoo! Groups, Facebook and others, these message board-style groups are unaffiliated with the product vendor, providing users with potentially more anonymity while discussing programs, treatments and practices.
In addition to these peer-to-peer networks and communities, many of these vendors also offer programs that provide professionals with free or discounted software, advanced training and other features. The most notable of these are the Sage Professional Accountants’ Network, the QuickBooks ProAdvisor program and Microsoft’s Professional Accountants’ Network. The Sleeter Group is another option for professionals, providing education, training and support opportunities for all of the major small business bookkeeping solutions on the market, as well as many of the third-party “add-on” systems that enhance those programs.
OTHER WAYS TO NETWORK WITH PROS
Professionals are increasingly turning to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media websites for day-to-day interaction with potential clients and with their peers. Several blogs are also available for professionals, allowing them to discuss news, software and other topics. Check out www.CPATechViews.com as a great example.
THE ANSWERS YOU NEED
You know what you know. Hopefully, you also know what you don’t know and have the knowledge to find that information if you need it. Just as tax research systems are essential in the modern tax and accounting practice, online user communities are just as vital.
By offering professionals a place to interact, collaborate, learn and help others on a wide range of topics from using specific features in a program to specific tax law discussions and business matters, these networks can help strengthen the capabilities of all professionals who use them by drawing on the collective knowledge of professionals across the country and the world who’ve encountered the same challenges and can offer their own insight and expertise.