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An Ode To My Accountant: A lesson in asking for referrals

Accountants don't have enough odes written about them. Pardon me while I change that.

I am very fortunate as a business owner to have a marvelous accountant. He's whip smart, highly knowledgeable, but also congenial and easygoing. Not everyone is lucky enough to have an accountant that they would love to have a beer with - I am.

Yet it's actually how I found my accountant, or rather how my accountant found me, that makes for a better story.

I have known my accountant, let's call him Danny (largely because that's his name) for several years now. I had the opportunity to work with his wonderful wife in a student organization when I was in my undergrad, and we've stayed in touch ever since. When I say stayed in touch, I mean I knew that Danny was an accountant, but I couldn't have told you much more than that.

Fast forward a few years when I was a new lawyer, and preparing to join a firm that had a potentially lucrative fee structure. As someone who had been in school forever, the prospect of earning some real income was not something that I took lightly, and I knew that it was high time that I found a good accountant.

I happened to know some great accountants, but unfortunately none of them were working in personal tax at the time. Short of asking for recommendations, I was running out of leads.

That's when Danny did something brilliant. He asked me for referrals.

The message read in part: "Just wanted to say hello and to wish you well in your new professional endeavors. Please let me know if I can be of any help to you as far as tax and accounting go. I advise many lawyers on these matters."

It wasn't overly long or complicated. It also wasn't pushy, and it didn't make me feel uncomfortable. It simply told me that he knew the space that I occupied, and that he was bold enough to put the call out. I replied by asking him if he handled personal taxes, he told me he did, and we've been together ever since.

Think about it for a moment.

When Danny reached out, he had no idea that I was looking for an accountant. He didn't know what my current practice situation was, or what book of business I had or had not built up by that point. He simply had the courage to reach out, and the wisdom to do so in a way that was confident without being brash or obtrusive.

I know so many professionals who are uncomfortable asking for referrals. We feel as though we're being too 'sales-y,' or that we're bothering people. The reality is that while we're too afraid of asking for someone's business, someone else isn't, and they're the ones getting the client.

Try asking for referrals. Your warm network (friends and family) may have a sense of what you do, but they're probably less familiar than you might think. When they really 'get it,' and when they see where your skills are, it will be that much easier for them to send referrals your way.

That's why I focus this business on storytelling. Stories are how people understand you and your business. I'm overjoyed when my clients let me know that their latest blog post or their new website generated business because someone reading it had a better understanding of what they do, and knew what sort of referrals to send their way.

I'll start. I am a storyteller who focuses on helping professionals and small businesses better tell their stories. I run a digital marketing agency that offers content writing services, as well as a host of other digital marketing services necessary to improve a business' online presence and make them stand out from their competition. I work with a variety of industries, and always love taking on new projects and new challenges.

If you know anyone who might need those services, please send them this blog, or put us in touch directly. I would love to connect with them and learn more about their story.

Or, if you just need a great accountant, I'm happy to introduce you to Danny.

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