Conventional business wisdom has it that accountants are good sources of banking contacts. Then don't beat around the bush when interviewing potential accounting firms, figured Flo Gillen, CEO of Soft Inc., a computer-programming consulting firm in New York City.

When searching for an accountant in 1984, Gillen asked point-blank what kind of banking connections the firm could provide on top of its regular accounting services. While it was only a five-person operation at the time, Soft Inc. was growing rapidly and Gillen needed a credit line fast.

All but one of the accountants she interviewed were vague about what connections they had with banks, says Gillen. "That one was pretty blatant about it," she reports. He offered introductions to bankers he knew at Chase, Chemical, and Citicorp.

Gillen decided to go with his firm and soon had credit lines to choose from. "Sure, it was gutsy, but we needed the money, and it worked," says Gillen, who today employs 40 programmers.