What Does It Take to Become a Master Networker?
As the saying goes, it’s not about who you know, it’s about who knows you. In short, a strong network is fundamental to your networking success.
According to CEG Worldwide, 83% of financial advisors say their networks are crucial sources for attracting new clients.
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Who Is in Your Network?
While a strong network for new clients is vital, a robust network of centers of influence (COI) is equally important.
Get creative. Your COI network should no longer be built of just attorneys, accountants, insurance agents, loan officers, bankers and real estate agents. Think broader and think bigger – like human resources consultants, executive recruiters, business and life coaches.
A COI network of healthcare professionals is also important. Physicians, physical therapists, assisted living facility directors, home healthcare workers and hospice providers should all be part of your network.
Also consider building a network of professional contacts that includes trade experts such as auto mechanics, contractors, electricians and plumbers. Even tutors, nannies, babysitters and pet sitters are great to have in your network.
Creating a strong network of professionals is really an endless pursuit . The more extensive your network of experts is, the better. This way, if your clients and prospects need reliable and trustworthy professional referrals, you will have them ready at your fingertips. An additional benefit to you is that you stay tightly connected within your community and with local businesses.
It’s Not About You
It is imperative to understand that networking is not just about you and building your contacts. It is also about helping others to make connections as well.
This should be your motivation. To become a master networker, and strive to become a true connector. Be genuinely curious about others and how you can help them connect with others. This will, hands down, differentiate you from other financial advisors.
Do you cringe when you hear the term networking event? Networking events are not for every advisor. Some advisors find them energizing and others find them completely draining.
If attending networking events is something that energizes you, always remember to introduce yourself to others at the events and be both confident and authentic. Project confidence, but also be humble.
Don’t make the mistake of just handing out business cards and calling it a day. Although it is important that you have a short “elevator speech” prepared to communicate your value proposition and the services you offer your clients, you should focus on keeping your ears open and listening at networking events.
Ask powerful questions when you are meeting new people. Try to get people talking as much as possible. Find common points of interest. People like to connect with and work with like-minded individuals.
Keep in mind, if you find yourself in a conversation and you are not connecting with the person, don’t force it. It’s ok! You certainly will not connect with everyone you meet. Be polite, thank them for their time and wish them well. Always be respectful of people’s time.
Honing the Basics
Though networking events can be extremely beneficial for some financial advisors, if networking events are not your cup of tea, you can also master your networking skills by honing in on the basics.
What are the basics? You guessed it: picking up the phone and sending emails to clients and referral sources that you already know. The key to this, however, is to be disciplined. You can’t network only when you feel like it. Create a repeatable process and set a specific amount of time every week solely devoted to just networking. Set specific goals and stick to them. Make sure your goals are both realistic and measurable. Review them quarterly and revise them if needed.
Be sure to always follow up. And it should go without saying, do what you say you are going to do and take action on follow-up items within 24-48 hours.
LinkedIn is another tremendous way to help you become a master networker. While other forms of social media can also work well for networking, LinkedIn is the only true business social media network there is. In other words, if you are only going to focus on one social media platform, stay active on LinkedIn.
At a minimum, you should connect with all of your current clients on LinkedIn. Next, you should connect with the adult children and grandchildren of your existing clients. You should also connect with friends and people you do business with.
Conduct routine searches on LinkedIn using filters and invite people to connect with you. You can do this with the free version of LinkedIn or run more advanced searches by purchasing LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator. When inviting people to connect, always create a personalized message.
You should also join groups on LinkedIn. Whether it is your college alumni group, groups related to your hobbies and favorite charities or professional groups, joining groups on LinkedIn is another essential way to build your network.
The Bottom Line
Creating a strong network goes hand in hand with becoming a master networker.
The truth is, networking can sometimes be viewed as a necessary evil. However, if you make networking a routine part of your business and truly commit to it, it will not only become easier, but you will see the results.
Becoming a master networker doesn’t happen overnight, but strengthening your networking skills will help set you up to reap the rewards.
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