I recently read an article written by a CPA who was unhappy with people he felt were asking for “free” advice at cocktail parties.  The article went on to discuss how to skirt those questions, and even how to churn those answers into revenue for his firm.  While I understand his point of view to an extent (we can’t work for free), I was hoping that his point of view would not hinder other readers from asking their professional acquaintances questions at parties.  Not everyone shares that author’s perspective.

With the holiday season fast approaching, I was thinking about the parties that I attend as a CPA, as a neighbor, as a friend, or as a family member.  At many of these parties, there are certain people whom I rarely see in a social setting, when there is time to just talk –whether it be about the weather, the news, the family or the profession.  I welcome the opportunity to discuss tax, accounting, business valuation, succession planning, or any topic that someone wants to chat with me about.  After all, I am there to socialize, and I do love accounting.  My coworkers, as far as I can tell, feel the same way.  Often times, the acquaintance is not looking for “free” information, but they are simply and graciously making conversation.  Additionally, listening to others’ specific issues allows me to learn something myself.

If you attend a holiday party this year, and you want to discuss an accounting matter – ask away.  Most of us accountants love to talk about our profession and share our expertise.  If someone gets a “free” tidbit of information from me, I am happy to have shared it.  Of course many situations are more involved, and cannot be resolved over a wine and cheese tray, but my point is that it is not taboo to talk some business.

Cheers!  Sally Silver, CPA/ABV, CVA, Yount, Hyde & Barbour, PC