When it comes to learning and growing as a professional, there is no true “one size fits all” approach that works for everyone. Successful business development mentoring programs take into account that some people respond better to a rigid hierarchy of boxes to tick off while others flourish with a hands-off approach.
One of the greatest things about working with firms such as Saltmarsh, is being given the freedom to choose what path works best for you – do you want to follow the pre-established growth map, chart your own course, or use a combination of both methods?
The Saltmarsh Growth Team has put together a fantastic plan for business development mentors and mentees to follow. The program has a variety of tasks at each level for mentees to work through and discuss with their mentors before progressing upward. These tasks range from attending client meetings to joining local civic or business groups to reading books geared towards professional development.
The BD mentor program allows mentors and mentees to track progress and to record key takeaways and important milestones. The underlying goal is to get newly hired staff acclimated to business development activities so that when they graduate to a higher position, the fundamentals of building and managing a book of business are already in place.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with a highly structured program if it works for you – but for me, this is not the case. While I had been an accountant for years, my career in public accounting began later than your average “fresh out of college graduate.” Coming into public accounting, I felt I had already mastered the basics of business and professional development. It did not make sense to practice an elevator pitch speech or read Raving Fans – I had already done those things in my professional career. I had a good idea of what my weaknesses were and knew that getting out into the community and meeting new people was the first way to combat that.
Saltmarsh allowed me to blaze my own trail right out of the gate. I decided to join several professional organizations to learn more about my specialization (the construction industry) and meet other real estate professionals on their home turf. Spending time with these groups as well as their members makes business development a fun and engaging experience while also keeping me in tune with issues that matter to them.
Perhaps the best mentor I could have in the area of business development is one of Saltmarsh’s newest shareholders, Mike Miller. From the first day, I walked into the Saltmarsh offices, Mike took me under his wing and worked tirelessly to help me develop referral networks and prospective target lists. We’ve worked trade association booths together, hosted happy hour events, and prepared workshops for industry professionals. Mike’s approach to business development is a perfect fit for my style – free form but with accountability. Neither of us likes to get bogged down by checklists or prepared speeches, so together we make what I believe is a great business development team.
My example is only one among many where Saltmarsh’s business development strategy has allowed employees to shape their own path and have it result in success. Business development is a skill set all professionals should seek to improve, but the process in which that occurs is up to the individual. Saltmarsh facilitates our success through providing us the freedom to choose our business development path and ultimately keep bringing in new business, which is part of the reason Saltmarsh is one of oldest independent CPA firms in Florida.
About the Author | Michael Egan, CPA
Michael is a senior in the Tax & Accounting Services Department of Saltmarsh, Cleaveland & Gund. His primary areas of experience involve commercial real estate development and property management, as he works with the Saltmarsh Construction & Real Estate Development team. Michael works closely with their construction clients, providing various services related to corporate taxes, bookkeeping, and consulting for upcoming projects.