Business networking strategy: 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.
If you’re the type of financial advisor who neglects their professional networking, there’s no better time than today to give your network some love.
To learn more about the ins and outs of business networking, read on below.
What is effective business 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.
What Are Business Networking Strategies?
Networking strategies refer to the steps that you take as a financial advisor to establish relationships with people relevant to your work. There are several strategies you may use to facilitate networking relationships, including attending industry-related events or finding fellow professionals online.
Networking strategies open new opportunities for you to connect with people in order to exchange information, advice, references, and opportunities. If you master the art of business networking, you’ll be able to develop partnerships that will help you achieve your career goals.
What Are the Benefits of Building a Strong Business Network?
Networking is crucial for a small service-based business such as your financial advisory practice. It will allow you to get new customers more quickly. If you think about it, if you’re not spending much time meeting and interacting with people within your industry, it’s more than likely that you’re missing out on valuable opportunities to generate referrals, forge new partnerships, and even land new clients.
It’s important to note, however, that networking isn’t only about building relationships. The process of meeting and interacting with other professionals in your industry is part of your continuing education. The people within your network may be able to provide you with new ideas or practices that may help you as a financial advisor.
Do financial advisors need a networking strategy?
You may need a strategy if 3-5 of these points apply to you:
- 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
How Should You Network as a Financial Advisor?
Put your thinking cap on and create a strategy to uncover groups where you can network. Follow these six steps, and you’ll be growing your network in no time.
Top financial advisor networking groups
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 networking 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.
Aside from the tips mentioned above, you may also want to employ the following strategies to find networking events suitable for you:
Join a Networking Group
Networking groups help connect professionals from within your industry and beyond in order to meet each other and exchange helpful information. These groups may have planned activities for each meet-up, or they may allow the members to decide on what goes on during the meetings.
Joining a networking group for financial advisors is effective because it lets you meet other people in an environment conducive to establishing professional relationships. If these meet-ups happen in person, they may help you establish relationships with professionals within your locality.
Use Social Media
Another way to find networking events suitable for you is by searching social media. Social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, allow you to connect with other financial advisors – and individuals in need of financial advisors — from around the globe. Events organized on social media platforms will enable you to stay connected to members of organizations you may have been a part of throughout the years.
Refer to your database of professional contacts
Suppose you don’t already have a database of professional contacts. In that case, you should start keeping records of names, email addresses, numbers, and other information about people you’ve met in a professional environment. These databases will allow you to skim through your contacts quickly and determine whom you could reach out to in order to set up a networking event relevant to your needs.
Join Industry Groups
Many industries have groups that professionals, such as yourself, can join to network with other professionals working within the same field. Search whether there are any financial advisor groups near you that allow you to meet up with other financial advisors.
Attend Conventions and Conferences
You may be thinking that conventions and conferences are primarily places for you to learn about new developments within the industry; however, conventions and conferences are helpful for more than just information gathering. These events also allow you to meet financial advisors who have a wide range of specializations – and a vast network of potential clients for you.
Step 4: Make a networking 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.
Now that you’ve identified the networking events that will be most beneficial and accessible to you and have marked them on your calendar, you’ll need to prepare yourself for the event. Before you even arrive at the networking event, you’ll want to take the time to put in place the following tips to ensure smooth networking:
- Prepare your business cards. When preparing your business cards, it’s best for you to bring more than enough business cards; having an excess is safer than not having enough. Your name, contact number, and email address – these are a few of the essential details you’ll want on your business card.
- Ask for the guest list. It won’t always be possible, but it’s best to ask the event organizer for a copy of the guest list. This document will help guide you regarding whom you’ll focus on connecting with on the day of the event.
- Practice your handshake. A good handshake will show your confidence. Don’t forget to make eye contact with the person you’re shaking hands with.
- Practice your elevator pitch. Your elevator pitch should describe what you do as a financial advisor within 30 seconds.
- Research on current industry events. Staying up-to-date with current events will allow you to join in quickly when it comes to group conversations.
- Determine the dress code. Before the event, make sure you know what the dress code is. You’ll want to dress appropriately but also comfortably.
- Eat before the networking event. Yes, most networking events will serve food. But it’s important to remember that your primary purpose for attending the event is to make connections and not to eat. You wouldn’t want your hunger to distract you from meeting other people.
Step 5: Business Networking 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.
Networking doesn’t end when the event ends. Much of the value you’ll get from attending networking sessions lies in the follow-ups. Use the business cards you collected — you asked each person for a business card, right? — as reference for contact details. Here are some ways you can keep in touch with your network after any networking event:
- Add your new connections to your database of professional contacts.
- Send out invitations to connect on social networking sites such as LinkedIn.
- Keep yourself updated with important events in the careers of your contacts, and send greetings or messages of congratulations when appropriate.
- Send articles that may benefit or interest your contacts.
Invite your new professional contacts to other events.
What are the best networking groups for financial advisors?
- Industry groups where your target markets hang out
- Estate planning councils in your area
- Speed networking groups
- Association for Corporate Growth: ACG Global
- Your local chamber of commerce
- Meetup Groups
- NY/NJ CPAs, professionals in Accounting Networking
- Real Estate Development Groups
- The Future of Accounting Meetup – San Francisco
- American Association of Finance and Accounting
- The Institute of Internal Auditors
- Institute of Management Accountants
- Professional Association of Small Business Accountants
- Young CPA Network
- Society of CPA’s
- Estate Planning Group Network
- National Network of Estate Planning Attorneys
- Young Lawyer’s Network
- Business Network International
- Le Tip
- American Marketing Association
- Rotary Club International
- Arizona Technology Council
- Technology Networking Groups
- Toastmasters International
- Social Groups
- Master Mind Groups
- Women In Business Networking
- Your local Convention and Visitor’s Bureau
- Merchants’ Associations
- Young Entrepreneur Council
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.
If you want to grow your practice, brand your firm, and create a prospecting plan, please contact me for a consultation!