By Kevin R. Clark
My biggest early career mistake was not intentionally networking. Intentionally is a critical word in this sentence: effective networking requires deliberate action rather than hoping to meet people casually.
You should ideally start before your first day in the industry. If you’re already in the industry and haven’t dedicated weekly or monthly time to networking, start laying the groundwork today. Here are my best practices for success in this regard:
1. Network with other financial planners.
Observing and talking with others in the industry will greatly accelerate your development. You will be able to share ideas and best practices, develop your technical knowledge and refine your processes and communication. Joining an industry professional organization is an easy way to find and meet other finance professionals, and advisors who are members of these organizations tend to be the most generous with their time and career advice.
2. Network with professionals in related fields.
As financial planners, we do a lot for our clients, but we can’t do everything. In addition to relying on your advice, your clients will look to you for recommendations from other professionals who can help them implement your advice. You can be invaluable by having a trusted attorney, independent insurance agent, tax preparer, realtor, mortgage agent, and banker help them complete the steps in their financial plan.
Make it clear to these professionals that you are also looking for new clients and accept referrals if any of their clients need your services. Referrals are the cornerstone of any successful business, including a consulting practice. Joining a referral networking group can speed up the process of finding and connecting with these people while allowing you to enjoy a relatively exclusive referral relationship (you are their go-to person when their client needs help). a financial adviser).
3. Network with professionals in unrelated fields, too.
Even having a professional in a non-obvious industry can be invaluable to clients when things happen. Ask yourself if any of your clients are getting engaged. In addition to all the legwork necessary to marry their finances, you can greatly facilitate their wedding by recommending a florist, a caterer or a DJ. Does your client have car problems? Personal relationships with auto mechanics, body shops, and salespeople can eliminate a lot of headaches.
Having two or three suggestions for any situation can save your clients hours of work they would have spent doing their own due diligence and negotiating. You become essential to clients both in offering vital advice and in taking the guesswork out of their lives when stressful conditions arise.
4. Be specific about what you do and how you can help people.
Tying all of the above together, truly effective networking requires specificity. The goal of networking is to have trusted professionals to help your clients and, just as essential, to have these partners refer new potential clients to you. It’s important to be memorable and stand out from the dozens of other financial advisors they talk to in person or connect with on LinkedIn.
Give them a picture of your typical customer — their demographics, values, and needs — and explain why these people work with you and what you’re doing to help them. An easy rule to remember is to avoid saying “anyone”. If you tell an insurance agent you’re looking for “someone who needs help investing their money,” they’ll have already forgotten about you when they get back to their vehicle.
Contrast that with the following example: “I work with blue-collar business owners like roofers and excavators to help balance reinvesting profits back into their business while setting money aside for personal goals. I also manage their investments to free up time for them to focus on their operations.
That same insurance agent probably has five to ten people who immediately come to mind, and the next time a contractor calls and says they need an advisor, your name will probably be the first one. he will mention.
Kevin R. Clark is a Certified Professional Financial Planner and serves as the 2022 FPA NexGen President. He works as a financial advisor at Highview Advisor Group in Columbus, Ohio and owns Arch City Tax Services LLC.
FPA NexGen, a community of the Financial Planning Association® (FPA®), aims to provide support and collaboration to new financial planning professionals. With over 2,500 like-minded young professionals, FPA NexGen members are ready to share their experiences and advance the future of the financial planning profession. Learn more about our engaged community and join the conversation on Twitter.