Financial advisers should work on their networking skills if they want to find new business.
One of the things that you get to know pretty early on in your career as a financial adviser is that networking plays a key role in success. Whether it is chasing a new investing lead or setting up a mutually beneficial referral network that can last you a lifetime, making connections and building on them is part and parcel of the work you do.
Financial professionals come in various guises, and beyond that there are associated roles in law, lending and other services that at some point cross over in the course of doing business. While a general trend sees more and more people working from home, and other cases see technology liberating us all from one particular location, this can have an isolating effect in some ways.
With that in mind, it’s essential for you to know how important networking actually is for someone in your line of work.
What is networking?
Networking has long been a key contributor to your chances of success, no matter what occupation you might be engaged in. For professionals looking for qualified leads for financial advisers, it is even more important, as reaching out as far as possible can only add to the range of opportunities that will become available to you.
Successfully engaging and interacting with prospects and clients is an ongoing challenge that should never be taken for granted and should always demand your attention to detail. That is only one side of networking though, as it is really a by-product of the work that you actually do. The true purpose and importance of networking becomes apparent when you look at it in terms of marketing yourself and your business.
The increasingly competitive nature of the sector that you work in means that putting your message across is only one factor in your ultimate success. The bottom line is that in order for anyone to listen to what you have to say, you need to be in touch with people in the first place.
Networking or marketing?
In essence, there can be a fine line between marketing and networking, and some people get confused about this. Any technique that promotes a specific product, service, person or company by actively engaging and informing a lead or client might fall under one or other tag.
The real difference lies in the fact that networking should never involve a “hard sell”, but rather should be aimed at building connections that can help you spread the word about you and your services in a mutually beneficial way. This might mean having a mutually beneficial arrangement with another professional in a complementary but different field, such as a lawyer, surveyor or lender. When you have an existing client with whom you have already built up a relationship based on trust, it makes sense to recommend or refer them to someone else you know.
This is quite different from marketing, in that it isn’t a scatter-gun approach aimed at a wide target audience, or even at a more slimmed-down niche demographic. Instead, it focuses on a prospect that is already engaged and involved with someone they trust and who is talking about what you can offer their client in glowing terms. Obviously, this type of arrangement does need to be one that works both ways in order for it to be long-lasting, and that’s how the old “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” approach has a long tried-and-tested history in businesses of all shapes and sizes.
Real-life meetings get a bad press in some quarters, but they are still a viable way to make networking work for you. Face-to-face interaction with clients is a great way of building trust, and that’s also true for networking with possible referral contacts. Entrepreneurial meet-up groups can be found in most places these days and give you the opportunity to forge multiple connections in a location or within a community. Not only does this give you access to a large potential client base, but if you are looking for specific or niche opportunities such as pension leads for IFAs, then it can also make it easy to target a demographic in one place at one time.
Of course, no piece about how important networking is for a financial adviser could be written without mentioning social media. Sometimes seen as primarily a way for friends and families to keep in touch or for celebrities to deliver their PR message direct to fans, the variety of platforms now available obviously also offers great potential for financial adviser leads.
LinkedIn is one example of a social network aimed at professionals and based on the age-old principles of networking. Making sure that your own details and profiles are accurate and regularly updated is a given, but putting a little extra effort in can help to create purposeful relationships and develop networking contacts.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others are all there for you to use as important networking tools. These not only offer plenty of B2B potential but also have the advantage of giving you access to literally hundreds of thousands of potential investor leads.
YouTube and any audio-visual methods of using other platforms can also offer great openings to be used as a modern networking tool. Using videos and moving imagery to connect to other users is proven to be far more effective than using the written word alone. The internet is, after all, a visual medium – so it’s no surprise that people like to engage with this type of online content.
One of the drawbacks of using audio-visual media in the past was the expense, both in terms of producing content and also in “getting it out there”. Today, anyone can make a professional broadcast-quality visual recording using a decent smartphone, and the various social media platforms offer free access to potentially unlimited audiences.
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