I’m a big believer in business networking. I feel that it’s very important for financial advisors to get out of their offices and meet other business professionals, community leaders, and those who may need their services.
The trouble is, most financial advisors do NOT build networking into their weekly calendar leaving them isolated and office bound without a wide network of referral partners.
What is effective networking? It is cultivating relationships with potential referral partners and business owners in your town or metropolitan area. It means going to events, getting out of your office, and talking about what you do for a living.
How do you know if you need a networking strategy?
- You have less than 500 contacts on LinkedIn
- You are not getting out of the office at least once or twice weekly
- You don’t have referral partners to provide your clients when they need specific services
- You receive very few referrals from business professionals
- You want to grow your practice but you don’t know how
Where do you start when you’ve decided that you need to cultivate a referral network? What are the first steps in deciding how to be an effective networker?
Step 1: Create goals for your networking strategy. Why do you want more business exposure? How many new meaningful relationships would you like to cultivate? Do you want to attract new clients via networking?
Step 2: Review your existing network. Who do you already know? What type of new contacts do you need? How much time can you devote to attending events?
Step 3: Find suitable events. Call your existing network. What events do they attend that might be worthwhile? Can they invite you as their guest? Where does your target market hang out? Ask your top five clients to share the groups they belong to and ask if they will be your guide in attending.
Step 4: Make a plan. Open your calendar and plan out the events you will attend over the next few months. Get familiar with your elevator speech and make sure you have plenty of business cards to hand out.
Step 5: Follow up. Most networking fails in the follow up. Always block time on your calendar to follow up with new contacts you meet and make notes on what stood out for you. Make sure you do what you said you would do. Make appointments to meet in person if you feel there was a meaningful connection and if you think there’s a possibility for new business or referrals.
Armed with a networking strategy, you will be able to avoid common marketing mistakes, make more contacts, get the word out, and grow your business. You can’t do that if you’re stuck in the office every day of the week.