From the February 2013 digital issue.
Social media rocks. I get it. I’m out there…posting to Walls, tweeting, Linkin’ it up! I’m also soaking up the information that comes in from my social media channels. But it will be a long time, if ever, that online networking forums can match the magic that takes place when practitioners are onsite together—exchanging ideas, sharing knowledge, and imbibing the expertise of peers.
So, while I totally “Heart” Twitter and Facebook, I dig the energy of face-to-face networking and witnessing the camaraderie among practitioners as they learn from each other.
Marketing isn’t just about campaigns and bringing in leads. It’s also about education; that is, staying on top of new trends and learning about better ways to deliver your message and continue to build a powerful brand. And what better way to learn about new advancements in marketing then from those trying to accomplish the same results?
Allow me to place one last plug for social media: Applied purposefully, it’s a smart addition to any marketing program. Online networking is here to stay; that’s a for sure. The important thing to remember; however, is to maintain a healthy balance between online and onsite.
That is, leverage the power of digital networking to market your firm and learn while also preserving traditional educational tactics like attending onsite events.
Compared to the super coolness of tweeting or blogging, onsite networking is sometimes considered old school. On the contrary, face-to-face forums are a long-standing and faithful tool in the profession—offering a solid venue for exchanging information and learning was’up in the ever-changing tax and accounting profession.
Participants work collaboratively to identify resolutions to common issues and pain points, and all within a supportive and non-competitive environment. And, hey, that’s pretty coolalicious!
Onsite events provide participants with a level of energy and in-depth discussion that is difficult to replicate in a web-based environment. Brainstorming for solutions and defining best practices is a complex and dynamic process that is best supported by dedicated in-person interaction. For most, coming up with the next great idea is difficult to do in isolation—especially in the creative realm of marketing.
Typically, it’s through a process of group idea slinging that viable solutions evolve and “Ah-ha” moments take place. Put several great accounting minds in the same room and inevitably the marketing Ah-ha’s abound.
Make Room for Onsite Events
Those that regularly attend onsite professional events are talking about more than marketing. They are discussing several elements that help them advance their firms—topics that range from Cloud technologies to collaborative accounting. Even more reason to get in there a mix it up. And unlike online forums, discussions are synchronous.
As ideas evolve, members actively work and rework them, applying practical experience and theory. Immediate multi-way feedback helps to sustain momentum and excitement—motivating participants to take ideas through to completion and devise action plans for implementation. In the end, everyone walks away knowing more. It takes a village.
Professionals are hitting all the hot topics, and these are definitely conversations to get in on. Here are just a few examples of what peers are discussing (in addition to marketing):
- Client Collaboration—The ability to collaborate with clients in real time is critical in today’s busy professional environment. Clients want immediate access to their financial documents and data, and a direct reach to their trusted advisor. Creating an online client accounting model is key to supporting an environment of collaboration. This might be one of the hottest topics around.
- Single Client Database—Creating a single database is huge right now! This is another exceptionally hot topic. Many firms are honed into discussions on how to build a single client database where information is entered once and can be assessed from one convenient location.
- Cloud Technologies—The Cloud is on everyone’s tongue. Because many Cloud applications can easily be integrated with today’s popular programs (such as QuickBooks), it’s much easier to build highly efficient solutions to better serve clients on a 24/7 basis.