I am confident that every professional has an aim to serve clients at the very highest level and to have a true impact on people and businesses through their work. Some professionals even take it a step further and successfully parlay their dedication to these work attributes into building a local, or even national, reputation in an industry and become famous as a leading industry professional. The question is how?
Having served hundreds of practice leaders from diverse backgrounds and firms, Rainmaker has observed and learned about some of the most effective activities of successful Practice Leaders who ultimately become famous in an industry.
Get Immersed in the Industry
Getting immersed in the industry is a key factor for becoming a successful professional in an industry. Having a passion for the industry is what drives many advisors to reach this elite level. They reveal their passion by attending conferences, developing relationships with key industry contacts, and giving of themselves to the industry at whatever level they are capable. Some practice leaders say they developed a passion by growing up with a father who was a contractor or owned a manufacturing company, while others see a hole in the market and create a specialty, and then develop a passion, where one didn’t previously exist.
Niche superstars advise that being immersed translates into getting busy with your time outside the office. Michael Devereux, Partner and Director of Manufacturing & Plastics Industry Services at Mueller Prost CPAs + Business Advisors in St. Louis, was around five years old when he started doing jobs for his dad who was a CPA. Mike advises that you need to, “Be at everything. You will want to try to make someone at your firm a famous person, so try to attend every industry event for which you’re able. This can be difficult at first, as the cost of attending industry events may exceed the income, and even the revenue of the niche. But that tide will turn.”
Greg Wank with Anchin Accountants and Advisors in New York has become known as the ‘food dude’ after he grew his passion, from scratch, and built a multi-million-dollar practice in the food industry. Greg left a fantastic impression at the Rainmaker 2018 SuperConference when he told the background stories of how he built his practice.
Surround Yourself with High-Quality Professionals
Develop a talent bank of people that help you access higher levels of information, understanding, and client service. When working together with such a network of diverse talent, the power of the whole community becomes greater than the sum of any one individual in the community. Being connected to a diverse talent bank allows you to approach client service in new and innovative ways and move to another level that is distinctly different from competitors. Furthermore, immersion in an industry takes place when you surround yourself with other professionals who share your passion for the industry and its clients. Information, news, and advice stream through you when you spend time developing relationships with people who are outside the normal, localized group of colleagues.
Networking with people who have a diverse skillset provides a wonderful opportunity to identify and discuss the most challenging issues of the day. In this mode, finding solutions to these challenges becomes a collaborative effort whereby many angles and possibilities are seen and discussed at a deeper level. Without such a coterie of trusted peers, finding innovative solutions becomes somewhat limited to the confines of your firm and its internal thinking.
Rob Grote, a Partner with Grassi & Co. in New York, and member of the Manufacturing CPAs, recently commented how just being around his industry peers and colleagues at events like the Rainmaker SuperConference provides new insights from his peers that often have him saying, “Why didn’t I think of that?”
Are you interested in meeting and getting the inside story from industry practice leaders all over the country? Plan to attend the 2019 Rainmaker SuperConference in Atlanta June 18-20 and meet the niche superstars who have become famous in banking, healthcare, manufacturing, nonprofits, and real estate-construction.
Be Active in an Industry Association
Identify and participate in industry associations and do more than just show up at the annual meetings. Leveraging the time spent at meetings translates into taking the time to be part of the conference planning committee, offering to submit content for a blog or article, or presenting on topics that provide solutions to industry challenges. In time, people will notice the activity and passion, which provides a great path to forming strong relationships with industry influencers and business owners, who can become key advisors and referral sources for you.
Create Your Own Industry Association or Network
There may be markets where a certain industry doesn’t have a strong association to connect with and that could be an impediment, though it can also be an opportunity to create something new and different and be the glue that holds it all together.
Karen Burns, a Partner with Sensiba San Filippo LLP, found that in the San Francisco Bay area there wasn’t a manufacturing industry group she could join that made sense. After some time, Karen decided she had to think outside the box and thus became the Co-Founder of the Association of Manufacturers Bay Area (AMBayArea), a trade group dedicated to addressing the daily challenges manufacturers face. Through this, Karen has made countless contacts with all the right players and generated business for her practice and other professionals that worked with her to make it happen. Karen has also developed national connections in the manufacturing industry and is truly a ‘go-to person’ for many industry leaders.
Meet Regularly and Set Expectations with Clients
Industry superstars see the value in spending the right amount of time with clients, constantly learning new things about their business and searching for innovative ways to help. Every business, in this context, is like an onion, and each meeting or communication is an opportunity to pull back another layer to reveal new possibilities. The ‘right’ amount of time will vary from client to client and it is for everyone to find out how each client likes to work and communicate. The best way to understand this is to ask how they like to communicate and to set expectations up front as to what you believe is a good benchmark for meetings and conversations throughout the year if you are going to be in a good position to help them manage their business at the highest level.
Go Deep in the Industry
Develop a micro-specialty within an industry and build a wealth of knowledge and understanding about the challenges and issues in that specific sector. There are nonprofit practice leaders who only work with foundations or churches, manufacturing leaders who are focused on plastics, furniture manufacturing or metal fabricators. Developing a micro-specialty is the next level of specialization and could require the need to move beyond your current market, however it does allow you and your team to be in a great position to think one step ahead of clients and proactively serve fewer clients at a much higher level.
Don’t Dabble in the Industry
Often, professionals stretch themselves too thin when it comes to serving clients in that they remain generalists in their thinking and ability to serve. Reviewing their profile reveals a list of five, six, or more industry specializations, and yet, given the complexities of today’s business environment, being able to understand the challenges in all these constantly-changing industries is next to impossible. Serving clients at a high level requires more time and commitment to understanding the organization and their industry. You may be able to have one primary industry and another that is considered secondary, but also have many more than that will dilute the potential impact on businesses in any industry.
One Managing Partner stated years ago that his firm became successful when they stopped dabbling and became serious about working in an industry. Our suggestion is for other firms to have a similar mindset when it comes to making decisions on how to allocate limited resources of time, people, and money.
For more information about Leadership development skills and how to best employ them in your role, please Contact Us to schedule a complimentary phone consultation. The Rainmaker Companies can help you Grow Your Firm, Grow Your Practice, or Grow Your Self.