Some shorter and simpler weekend challenges for you…
Spiff up your LinkedIn profile.
Estimated Time: 15-30 minutes
LinkedIn is probably the one big social network that I take semi-seriously.
Because it’s the one social network whose entire purpose is business, and I’ve actually generated business from using it as a user (not just as an advertiser).
Most weeks, I receive at least one offer for some sort of paid work on LinkedIn. Sometimes it’s a small business owner seeking tax resolution help. Sometimes it’s a practitioner seeking consultation assistance on a tax client. Sometimes it’s a straight up employment inquiry.
Why does this happen?
Because when you start putting yourself out there, advertising your services, start doing content marketing, and building a name and reputation for yourself, people are naturally going to “check you out”. And LinkedIn is one of the first places that a lot of people go.
As such, it makes sense to put your best foot forward.
So check out your profile. Is your photo current and professional? Does your summary section accurately describe who you are, what you do, and what you’re looking for? Is your job history accurate and reflective of the skills you’re promoting know? Does your status update feed portray your skills and expertise? Are you taking advantage of LinkedIn Pulse long-form publishing? Have you sought out skills endorsements from your colleagues and clients? Is your profile set to public? (It should be).
All these things impact how people perceive you when they look you up. For example, is somebody sends me a message on LinkedIn, and they don’t even have a profile photo, I usually delete the message without reading it, because I assume it’s a spammer.
Take the time to spiff up your LinkedIn profile, and put a recurring reminder on your calendar to do so once a quarter or so.
Mail out Thanksgiving cards as a client reactivation campaign.
Estimated Time: 60-90 minutes
Everybody has clients that drop off the face of the Earth for some unknown reason. Perhaps they moved, their cousin became an EA, or just didn’t like your shoes last time they came to see you. Bottom line: Everybody has client turnover.
Go through your tax software. Go back for the last 3 to 5 years. Filter out the people that have never come back. Export those people to a spreadsheet.
Hop on the Googles or visit a local store. Either stuff envelopes yourself, or use a print-and-send service. Send Thanksgiving cards to those lost clients, thanking them for their past business. Include a Call To Action (CTA) — a return review, tax planning appointment, $50 off, etc. to get them back in the door.
Why Thanksgiving cards? Because people are inundated with Christmas and New Year’s cards. Hardly anybody sends Thanksgiving cards. Not only is it different and unique, but you’re also hitting them a month before the Christmas card marketing avalanche. Snag their business now, not in December/January.
Set defined outcomes for your CPE.
Estimated Time: 10-15 minutes
It’s no secret by now that this is a subject I’m heavily biased on, given the fact that my primary gig is now a software company that helps firms manage and deliver training.
But I started that company because of a very simple truth: Most CPE sucks, and provides no value to your bottom line.
The fact that you have to complete CE/CPE/CLE to maintain your license is beyond your control. But what you do have control over is the type of CPE you take, the subject matter, and the value you derive from it. Whether you’re an attorney with just 12 hours a year to get done, or a CPA with 40 hours to slog through, it’s up to you to determine whether you’re going to get any real, measurable value from your CPE time.
Invest a few minutes into thinking about what you want to get out of your CPE for the rest of this year, and in 2017. Don’t just do hours because you need to do hours. Create a planned outcome. For many readers, this is very likely to revolve around adding a new service to your existing practice. From wealth management to insurance to management advisory services to tax resolution, there are a plethora of additional services that your clients need, and as their tax professional, you are in an ideal position to upsell those services to them. Thus, focus your CPE time and dollars on building billable skills.
Even if you’re not looking to expand your menu of services, you can use your CPE time to build niche specializations in what you already do. Target your CPE hours to the needs of niche industries, or to go deep on tax law provisions specific to a certain sector of the population that you happen to serve.
Put the time into thinking about this, and write down some outcome goals for your CPE. Also, be aware of and accept the fact that you’re probably not going to accomplish anything of real value from one of those “all you can eat for $99 a year” CPE places. You’re going to have to invest some time and money into taking courses that actually provide you with a real skill set. It’s deductible as a business expense, obviously, and is one of the most solid investments you can make for increasing your value to your clients and thus increasing your fees.