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Business Networking – You never know where it will lead…

Date: 4 April 2016

The Business Network Column from Platinum Business Magazine

Business Networking – You never know where it will lead…

By Emma Pearce – Marketing Consultant – marketing planning, outsourced marketing and social media training

Xero award winners
Emma Pearce reveals how networking can lead to the development of powerful partnerships and national awards

We all know that networking is not just about selling. It’s about developing relationships, finding suppliers, meeting potential partners and learning more about business.

Here’s a true story about the significance of an initial conversation at a networking event. It led to an incredibly important business partnership that has led to significant growth and national recognition for both parties.

Fresh Financials is a Selmeston-based company (near Lewes, in East Sussex) that provides cloud bookkeeping and accounting services for SMEs using the Xero accounting platform. (Xero is set to overtake Sage in terms of number of customers in 2016. In 2015 Xero converted a Sage data set over to it’s system every 46 minutes!)

Chance conversation

Emma Northcote-Green, MD at Fresh Financials, first attended the Xero conference (Xerocon) in London in 2013. It was only a year since she had decided to fully commit her bookkeeping and accounting business to Xero. In a networking break, as she picked up a drink and considered which exhibition stand to visit first, she started a conversation with a fellow delegate stood beside her. It was his first time at the event too. On hearing about Emma’s work, he explained he was at the concept stage of developing software that would integrate with Xero. David Tuck, Co-Founder and CEO of Chaser, described how their system would send automated emails for chasing customers to pay their invoices (in a polite and persistent way that looked like normal personal emails).

This chance meeting led to some interesting discussions in further networking breaks and when the first prototype was ready in May 2014, David travelled down from London to visit Emma and gave her a demo. Over the following months, Emma helped David by rigorously testing the product and giving enormously helpful feedback about refinements to make it even better. She loved the software and knew it would be brilliant for her clients.

A close business relationship developed and both companies had exhibition stands at Xerocon in 2015 as their businesses grew. Fresh Financials was the first SILVER Xero Accredited Bookkeeper in East Sussex and their client base quadrupled in 24 months. Chaser launched and had rapid growth – there are now over 1000 businesses signed up to the system. The benefits are significant – with an average 26 debtor day reduction and an average 3.5 working weeks saved per year manually chasing money!

In February 2016 both companies were at Xerocon again. Alongside the conference, Emma was a guest on the Chaser exhibition stand speaking to other bookkeepers and accountants about her experience with Xero and Chaser.

At the end of the conference there was some fantastic news – both won national awards! Chaser won ‘Add on Partner of the Year in the UK’ for customer service for partners and end-users, design and positive cash flow improvements for its clients. A huge accolade since there are 500+ add ons in the Xero ecosystem. Fresh Financials won ‘Xero Bookkeeping Partner of the Year in the UK’ for leading the way in reinventing bookkeeping through the adoption of Xero and add on solutions – so helping small businesses to reduce admin time and gain control of their finances.

Networking never stops

But that’s not the end of the networking story… another winner that day was a second Sussex-based business. Carpenter Box, Chartered Accountants and Chartered Tax Advisers in Worthing and Gatwick, were named ‘Accounting Partner of the Year in the UK’. Post-conference networking led to Emma making a connection with Aaron Knight from Carpenter Box and they have since met about how they can start working together.

So don’t forget your networking skills – smile and ask people about their business. You never know where your conversation will lead…

You can see this article in the Platinum Business Magazine online edition on page 90.

Why not read our other networking blogs… including:

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