When questioning how they can increase revenue, many advisors have heard the phrases “see more people” and “see better people,” especially if they’re familiar with the Al Granum principles in “Building a Financial Services Clientele,” a piece of required reading in many colleges, including The American College of Financial Services. But when advisors hit roadblocks or exhaust their typical or comfort-zone prospecting options, philanthropy and community involvement can be an effective next step. The key for advisors to successfully prospect within philanthropic organizations or through community service is to become involved in causes they are passionate about.
Prospecting is part of every advisor’s job, from skilled and experienced professionals to advisors who are just starting to practice. Below is a four-step plan financial advisors can use to grow their network and find prospects through community service and philanthropy.
Step One: Identify Organizations of Interest
Identify and explore several organizations or causes with which you’d like to be involved whether or not they have any direct benefit to your business. Do not rush this step of the process, as it is critical to building a foundational understanding to how you’ll transition from exploration to action. Make a list, narrow it down, and conduct research. Visit each organization and attend some of their events. Introduce yourself to the current board members and ask if it’s possible to attend one of the board meetings.
Step Two: Assess Your Opportunity
As you attend meetings, do your due diligence to decide whether or not the organization can accommodate an appropriate level of participation. For instance, some organizations meet infrequently, others may only have board meetings, and some will meet too often. Other organizations may not get involved with hands-on work, choosing instead to fundraise, or vice-versa. Your goal should be to exude their passion for the cause, so make certain your participation is set up in a way that makes you feel comfortable.
Step Three: Create a Balanced Networking Strategy
Effective networking strategies balance both short-term and long-term pathways. Advisors that are beginning to network must refrain from asking for business right away. Leave your business cards at home for the first few meetings and events to alleviate any subconscious desires to hand them out. Instead, identify individual members of the group who most resemble the type of client you wish to serve. Target a small percentage of the group, focusing on 10 percent at most. If too many prospects are targeted at once your intentions for joining the group will be seen as purely self-promotional and potentially be met with negativity. Spend time getting to know each prospect individually and ask them for a casual one-on-one meeting to get to know them better in another setting.
Step Four: Prepare For The Meeting
Preparation is crucial for these initial meetings with prospects. Conduct extensive research about each prospect and prepare questions for which you are truly interested in learning the answers. This step should be relatively easy if you’ve identified prospects who truly share interests and commonalities as is one of the key goals of this process. When you meet, share your passion for the organization you’re in, describe some of your goals, share how you see yourself participating and then ask for feedback. If the prospect is indeed a good fit, additional commonalities will become evident during your conversation. Then share the vision and excitement you have for your advisory practice, asking for help to meet other like-minded approach. This allows you to network without making the prospect feel like the only reason you’ve joined the group is to get names and sell services.
Once a network has been established, the key to solidifying long-term advisor/client relationships is to stay engaged with the organization and continue providing quality advice. Advisors who prospect with passion in organizations they believe in can attract individuals with similar interests and values, and build a like-minded client-base. Prospecting with your passion not only helps grow your business, but also helps you grow more holistically with an improved work-life balance.
Sharpening your client-building skills is an ongoing exercise for successful financial services professionals. Take the Client Building Assessment to evaluate your client building skills, identify new business opportunities and learn six actionable client building tactics.
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