How to: Win New Business as an Associate

You are ready to take your career to the next level. You read about The Pyramid and are ready to become a Finder. This is the year you are going to win new business as an associate. Watch out world, there is a new rainmaker in town!

Advice: Quit trying to win new business for the firm as an Associate.

Set a better goal for yourself:

Develop a meaningful network that will benefit you not only while you are at the firm, but also after you have left

Below are two primary ways to achieve this goal.

1. Ground floor investment opportunity

Become friends with your start class and other colleagues, the logic as follows:

  • If: Big 4 recruit talented people, and
  • If: A small percentage of those people spend their whole career in the Big 4 (see The Pyramid)
  • Then: Most of the people you are working with will ultimately take their talents elsewhere (and a number of them will become quite successful)

The Big 4 is doing you a great favor by bringing this group together and allowing you to spend time with them! 

Your colleagues will turn into a large number of highly skilled individuals working in a wide variety of industries in your region.  Take advantage of getting to know these folks. Build trust. Have fun. Take a long-term view of these relationships.

2. Ask advice

Another way to grow a meaningful network is by following The Best Advice. Make a list of people that you have even a remote connection to who are successful in finance/accounting (or the field you ultimately want to pursue.

Set the bar low for what “connection” means, because The Best Advice works even when the connection is weak.

Family & friends – didn’t that kid from your soccer team’s mom work as a VP of Finance for XYZ Co?

Church/Non-profit – even if the individual is two or three degrees separated, having shared belief/values adds another dimension to (and further increases the receptivity for your ask of) to the connection

Alumni network – “CFO of Big Co., you and I both attended X College before beginning our careers in Finance/Accounting (mine more recently than yours).  I was hoping to buy you coffee to get your advice early in my career on what has worked well for you and other advice you may have”

Subsequently, these connections may even evolve into your personal board of directors.

In conclusion, developing a robust network is a more meaningful (and often more fruitful) endeavor than trying to win new business. Start building your network today.

Additional reading –

How to: Find a Mentor

Book Review: Start with Why

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