Mixers with referral sources are a marketing tool used by many CPA firms. Mixers are small networking opportunities with 8-12 CPA firm partners and staff and an equal amount of people from one bank, one law firm, or other referral source organization. You could also multiply the networking opportunities and invite two separate organizations to the same event. Here are a few tips to stir things up at your next firm mixer.
Who to invite. Start with who you know, a law firm or a bank that is a friend of the firm. Think about the advisors who work with your clients or have referred business to you. Then, branch out and invite those you want to do more business with. The point person for your firm extends the invitation and works with your marketing professional and/or administrative support regarding the details. Remember, invite members of just one or perhaps two organizations at the same time.
Location. If you do not have a conference or training room that will allow 20-25 people to network comfortably consider holding your mixer in a private room of a local restaurant or country club. Think of other interesting locations that may entice your guests to attend, e.g., a museum or a place with a good view. Consider organizing your mixer prior to a sporting event to add another element of fun and conversation.
Day and Time. I recommend late afternoon, 4:30-6:30 p.m., with drinks and hors d’oeuvres. Avoid Mondays and Fridays. Plan your mixers far in advance to accommodate busy schedules.
Do Your Homework. Research each person attending your mixer using LinkedIn, the firm’s website, and Google. Send the summary information to each person attending from your firm so they can learn about each attendee, develop smart questions to ask, and prioritize who they’d like to spend time with.
Introductions. The managing partner of your firm should be prepared to give a brief introduction about the firm – no more than three minutes – about 30 minutes into the event. Concisely describe your industry and service specialties and the types of new business you are looking for. Then, each attendee should give their 60-second introduction including their name, title, areas of specialty, and, “Talk to me if you’re interested in learning more about (fill in the blank).” Consider passing a 60-second sand timer from person to person to stay on schedule.
Follow up. Holding the mixer is important. Following up the mixer is even more important. Create a spreadsheet of attendees and compile the follow up activities, e.g., lunch, further introductions, adding to your enewsletter list, LinkedIn connections. Hand written notes to those you spoke with are a nice touch and will be remembered. Your marketing professional, marketing partner or managing partner should follow up on the status of these follow up activities on a regular basis.
- Use name tags, not the peel and stick kind, but with a clip that are available in your local office supply store or online. Print using a large font size. Name tags are worn on the right shoulder so they can be seen easily.
- Business cards. Bring your business cards in a business card holder and keep them in a convenient place, e.g., suit jacket pocket, purse. Write a short note on the back of each card you collect with the follow up activity.
- Promotional items. Give your guests the option of taking a few “parting gifts” of firm literature and promotional items at the end of the event.
- Cross-check the new business referrals you receive with the organizations you’ve held mixers with. This will tell you how effective your team is with their networking skills and asking for the referral!