No matter what type of business you run, you need to network in order to build your business. Effective networking involves a lot more than simply handing out business cards.  Here are a few tips to help your business development meetings produce the business relationships that you want:

Sort your contacts

Try to get a copy of the attendee list prior to the event. Cross check the list against your contacts and targets to identify individuals.  Aim to meet each one and to get a follow up meeting in the diary.


Prepare an agenda. You’ll want to find out what their goals are for their business, what special skills they have, and what they’re especially proud of (both business-wise and personally). What organisations do they belong to that may be a good fit for your business networking?

Post meeting

If your contact is unlikely to turn into a prospect, mark them off your list of potential business development leads (but keep them as a business contact). As you go through this process, you’ll find your goals and interests match better with some people than others. This means that your meetings are producing the results you’re looking for. For those that have similar goals and interests, you should schedule times in the future to continue to build on what you’ve learned. For those that may not closely match your goals, stay in touch more generally through email marketing, etc.

Stay in touch

There is no bigger failing for your networking activities than to let those that you’ve met fall by the wayside. Never forget that while they may not be an ideal match for you now, their businesses and lives will have changes that you may be able to complement. They’ll also meet others that may be a better fit for you and will remember you when someone looks for your services and products.




 Setting goals and a strategy for your business is important. However you then need to measure how the business is performing in order to understand if the firm is moving forward and is on track to achieve its goals. As such it is necessary to set Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). However many business owners and managers find this difficult to do and see the establishment of KPIs as a pen-pushing exercise and don’t dedicate time to do this.

KPIs however, form a vital element of the business’s sales strategy, both for individuals and for the team itself. In order to create a shared vision, commitment and firm-wide motivation, it is vital that the KPIs are discussed with and agreed by each member of the team from the outset. KPIs should cover:



  • Team targets (i.e. convert 75% of all leads during the first quarter of 2015)
  • Individual targets (i.e. 80% of chargeable time billed each month in 2015)
  • Key tasks



The nature and specific tasks of your KPIs will depend very much on variations including the market sector and geographical area in which you operate. However, managers must ensure that they follow the SMART principal – that is, ensuring that objectives are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.

Depending on your business, it can be useful to adopt a traffic light approach for each client account, so areas of strength and weakness can be easily and quickly identified. This data can be fed into charts which can also be very useful when preparing KPIs, giving specific objectives and demonstrating how the results have a direct impact on the overall sales and business objectives.

Once set, KPIs should then be reviewed on a regular basis, both with the team as a whole and with individual team members. Any variance in performance can then be identified and flagged appropriately, with remedial actions put in place before any aspect of the traffic light chart turns to amber. Bear in mind that KPIs should always be dynamic. For example, even if a KPI target hasn’t been met, the individual or team performance may still be on course to achieve the overall sales objective, and the KPI target may need to be lowered. Similarly, if a target has been met, then it may need to be increased at intervals, to maintain drive and motivation.




Failing to plan, plan to fail. We all know this. However, many businesses who create a strategy or business plan fail to execute it to any significant degree. This is because it requires change, commitment, innovation, leadership and numerous other things to align your business in a way that facilitates the execution of your plan.

These 5 steps will help you to successfully execute your business strategy:future

Clarify your vision

Define what the business will look like if your strategy is executed successfully. Develop a summary of that vision and communicate it to all stakeholders. Communication must also be consistent – keep the vision in front of your team and make it a part of their daily lives. People cannot follow you successfully if they don’t know where you want to go.

Set goals

As part of your planning process, you should develop 4 or 5 critical goal categories. Each of these categories should be broken down and given specific goals with due dates, metrics to show progress and the names of the people that are accountable for their completion.

Align systems and people

This is the step where most businesses encounter trouble with strategy execution, as they do not take the critical step of aligning people and processes to attain their vision. They just assume that the firm will “figure it out”. All systems, people, incentives and business processes must be aligned with the new strategy. People must understand what they need to do and how their role affects successful execution of the strategy. They must get help in establishing priorities on what to do, as well as what not to do, to ensure that the overall strategy doesn’t get lost in the day-to-day.


The business should hold annual reviews of their current strategy and how outside forces have impacted on it. The aim of the review should be to determine whether the strategy is still valid, whether the firm is making adequate progress and what customers think. Strategy execution doesn’t just happen; it must be driven with the same commitment that built the business in the first place.



CPA Practitioners’ Conference 2012

I am delighted to have been invited to speak at the 2012 CPA Practitioners’ Conference the notification to members  is as follows:

‘Best Practice in Practice’ Conference                                                                             

Do you want to discover the tools, information and expertise needed to achieve best practice in practice?

Do you want to make your practice a success?

Discover how at the 2012 Practitioners’ Conference

The Heritage Hotel, Killenard, Co Laois

Friday 21st and Saturday 22nd September 2012

As Practitioners’ struggle to stay afloat and grow business in this time of economic crisis our expert speaker Carla Manning ADCA CPA will highlight the tools and activities Practitioners’ can undertake to make their Practice the best in practice. Bringing her wealth of experience, skill and knowledge developed over the last 15 years working with a diverse range of clients across a variety of industry sectors Carla will address the following crucial issues:

–          Managing Cash-flow – Do you have an airtight cash management system in place? Are you collecting what you are owed? Are you effectively managing your cash-flow?

–          Reviewing Your Clients – When did you last step back and analyse your client base? Do you know who is making you money and who is costing you money?

–          Strategic Planning – What do we do? Who do we do it for? How do we grow, succeed, excel? Key questions you need to ask yourself when it comes to strategic planning.

–          Being Proactive with Clients – Do you proactively bring business ideas to your clients? Are you missing cross-selling opportunities with existing clients?

–          Paperless Office – Sick of paper cuts? Do you aim for a paperless office? What alternatives to paper are available?

Carla Manning ADCA, CPA is the owner of CACM Accountants and Registered Auditors, a proactive and innovative accountancy practice based in Cork, established in 2009.

In 2011, Carla launched a new on-line business – IrishFormations.ie which provides a fully on-line company incorporation service to individuals as well as being an out source solution for Accountants and the legal profession.  The website provides live limited company name check and is the first in Ireland to work with the Companies Registration Office to bring this to market through technology called “Open Services”

Carla teaches on new business start up programmes. Carla currently holds the position of Treasurer in Network Cork and is a member of the Board of Cork Midsummer Festival. She was recently invited to join the steering group for the Economic Development Plan for the Northside of Cork.