Networking is a necessary part of creating your business, establishing your reputation, and building your clientele. For some, pitching themself and their business may feel awkward. They might even consider it the worst part of the job. For others, banter comes effortlessly. They can strike up an easy conversation with just about anybody.
Whether you find the social aspect of networking to be enjoyable or not, you can always benefit from both preparation and practice. In other words, just because you weren’t born a networker doesn’t mean you can’t become one.
Here are some tips to make the networking process more enjoyable and help you be more confident in your approach.
Prepare a Pitch:
Make up a general speech or pitch about you and your business that you can use in just about any situation where you’re talking with somebody new. Figure out how you want to represent yourself and what you want to get across about what you do and what you have to offer to potential clients.
Ask yourself: Does it make sense? Does it sound natural? Is it interesting? Does it hit on the most important points in a short amount of time?
Practice your pitch with family members and friends. This way you can get more comfortable with your pitch with people that you already feel comfortable with. You can also receive feedback to tweak your approach to be more natural and casual. Then when it comes time to network you can give a pitch that sounds natural, confident, and unrehearsed.
Here are some things that you might include:
- Basic description of what you do and of your business.
- Information about the kinds of clients that you work for.
- What kinds of services do you offer? How do you help clients meet financial goals or retirement plans?
Keep a business card on you at all times so that you can hand it over at some point during the conversation.
Remember that it’s important that you are engaged in your conversation, and that it sounds authentic. If your conversation starter sounds like a rehearsed speech then the listener will be uncomfortable and unreceptive.
Be true to yourself and what you value in your conversations. Don’t try to sell yourself in an inauthentic or forced way. Consider having multiple pitches or speeches practiced so that you can change your approach according to the situation and who you are talking to.
Be Prepared to Answer Questions:
If other networkers or possible clients begin to ask questions, that’s great news! It means that they are engaged in the conversation. Just make sure that you’re prepared to answer.
You want to have solid answers that sound fresh. Don’t give rote answers to your listener that they may have heard before from other financial advisors. Share the things that make you and your services unique. Your listener may also have more personal questions about your story, about your work in advising, the kinds of clients that you work with, as well as what results you’ve been able to deliver. Rehearse the answers to these questions in advance.
Continuing your conversation beyond your pitch is an important step in making a memorable first impression.
Next, you might find it worth it to get to know someone that you are networking with. If possible, you can take more time out to speak with a potential client over coffee or a meal, away from the crowd. Then you can engage in more than just business talk.
Be personable; ask them about their background, what kind of business they do. If you’re attending the same conference or networking event, find out how they ended up there. Ask about hobbies, interests, goals, and pursuits. This also gives them a chance to get to know you better and get a feel for how you operate in a business relationship.
Don’t be a phony. If you have a genuine interest in the other person, then it will show. You can have a meaningful conversation that doesn’t just feel like a business deal or a networking opportunity. Share ideas and interests as a way to bridge towards another meeting or continued business connection. By the time your conversation ends, be sure that they know how to get into contact with you and ask if you may contact them again. If so, be sure to follow up accordingly.
Networking is a key part of building a financial consulting business so always be prepared to maximize networking opportunities. While networking can be uncomfortable for all parties, you can prepare and practice to make these connections work to your advantage.
Prepare to introduce yourself, as well as your business. Ask questions, and be prepared to answer questions. And most of all, make sure to be genuine. Remember, this is a conversation… not a monologue. These conversations will help lead to further opportunities in building your clientele and establishing your reputation.
Contact me to learn how to network as a financial advisor. As the founder of the Myers Development Group and a top coach for wealth managers, I offer one of the top financial advisor coaching programs in the nation to help you build your clientele and develop thriving business relationships.