We’ve all thought or heard about Networking. It’s a fantastic way to land the proverbial whale if you do it right. Think about it…Networking costs very little but can:
• Get you in front of people who would never respond to marketing.
• Get you in front of professionals in all fields.
• Get you in front of high net worth people
• Get you in front of Centers of Influence
• Get you in front of people that can become a constant referral resource.
But, to benefit from networking you must be organized and proactive. You need to choose a target, plan a strategy and then work your plan.
A Dozen Tips to Help You Succeed:
1. Don’t try to be Everything to Everybody—Businesses and individuals like to do business with people they know and trust. Instead of wasting time and advertising dollars trying to reach a broad spectrum of clients, such as Chiropractors, or middle-aged consumers who have parents in nursing homes.
2. Join the Organizations that your target market belongs to—Find out what organizations your “perfect” clients belong to, and join those groups.
3. Just Do It!–Don’t be a no-show or wall flower at meetings. Get involved. Go to meetings as often as possible and work on one or two committees. Arrive early to meetings and be slow to leave. Your goal: to be the first person everyone remembers and suggests when others ask, “Do you know anyone who…?”
4. Start Your Own Network—Look for other professionals who serve the same clients you want to reach, but who don’t compete directly with you. Approach them with the idea of putting together an informal group to share business tips, referrals, leads and even mailings.
5. Become a Talking Authority—Talk to libraries and industry associations and get on their list of presenters for meetings. It will usually take several months to get scheduled, so plan ahead.
6. Become a Written Authority—Write articles about subjects where your special knowledge would be helpful people in your organization. Be sure to include not only a byline, but also your email address and a link to your web site. Then, remember to read your email and respond to it daily.
7. It’s NOT About You–Get people to talk about themselves…their businesses and personal lives. And listen to what they are saying. What are their concerns… what do they worry about? Use what they tell you to sell potential clients what they really want to buy. Although you may be offering Investments or advice, they may really be looking for something that allows them to sleep better at night… or help with protecting money from nursing home costs.
8. Become a Resource–Let your local media know about your area of expertise. Put together a series of press releases that have brief tips or information about areas of special concern to the community or a segment of your community (i.e. How people are coping with low interest rates). Then send one release a week over a period of a month or two to make your name familiar. Call ahead and find out what reporter or show host should get your press release.
9. Keep in touch–Call just to say hello send a handwritten note wishing them a Happy 4th of July… or just pass along some general piece of industry information. Ask how projects they are working on are going, mention news articles you’ve seen about them, and congratulate them on any recent successes they’ve had. Keep the details straight by making notes in a contact manager each time your talk to a client or prospect. Remember, friends work with friends (and the more money they have… the more this is true), and this is a good way to establish relationships.
10. Attend local trade shows—You don’t even need to have a booth at the show. Just be there to see and be seen. If you do have a booth, get there early and stay late. Networking with other vendors at the show can be a good source of business and leads.
11. Follow up…Follow up… Follow up!—This is the biggest sin I see advisors make… NOT following up on leads. Leads are worthless unless you follow up on them. Make notes on your smart phone about what you talked about and when to follow up. Make the phone calls or send the information you promised. Then, put them into a formal drip system so that you can follow up at regular intervals just to stay in touch. Marketing isn’t a one-time hit-or-miss proposition. Building a successful practice takes patience and ongoing marketing.
12. And Finally… ask for the business—Always be letting them know what you do and how you can help them.