Los Angeles: “Back in 1969 I sat through a workshop where the presenter told us there was a new concept that was going to revolutionize marketing,” reminisced Howard during a break following the social media segment of our Rainmaker Retreat, then with a chuckle of a wily veteran explained, “We were told to network, to go out and rub shoulders with people who had money. This social media thing is the same creature, it’s just that you’re doing it online, but you’ve still got to get face-to-face if you want to get any business from it.”
My 35 years of experience aren’t quite at Howard’s tenure, but we’re of similar demographic. My message has always been clear; social media is a tool that can uncover affluent connections that can lead to getting face-to-face. Not only did I agree with Howard, I explained how an entire segment of our social media coaching is dedicated to taking online connections offline.
What is “taking online connections offline?” It’s meeting someone who you’ve connected with on LinkedIn for a cup of coffee, or some form of face-to-face interaction.
Our recent social media research Social Media & Financial Advisors: Early Adopters vs. Casual Users has informed us that most advisors are casual users (92%) who really don’t quite understand how to use the tool to drive business benefit. For these advisors, transitioning their social media strategy, if it really is a strategy, from online to offline is one of their biggest challenges. Many advisors have learned how to build a network of clients, prospects, and centers-of-influence, but they have trouble turning this digital network into new business.
Early adopters have mastered this process. How? By a combination of online finesse that create opportunities for thoughtful offline (telephone) conversations, which lead to getting face-to-face. It requires you to engage your clients and centers-of-influence in open conversations about how they’re using social media. Naturally, you need to be able to articulate your thoughts on social media. Our in-house social media expert, Kevin Nichols, has some tips on the topic.
5 Tips: Online to Offline
1: Quality vs. Quantity – It’s become fashionable in social media circles to have thousands of followers. It reminds me of back in the day when stockbrokers used to brag about having thousands of clients. If you’re looking at social media as a tool to help you grow, quality connections matter. Our research on Early Adopters shows that they are much more selective in whom they connect with on LinkedIn, compared to Casual Users.
Every advisor who is targeting affluent investors needs to understand that relationship marketing is the path to success. This requires authentic relationships and carefully selected connections, both of which are designed to strengthen existing client relationships (relationship management), stimulate positive word-of-mouth, and get you face-to-face with quality connections.
- Action Step – Connect with all clients, prospects, and COI’s on social media.
2: Use Intelligence to Build Rapport -- Early adopters are using social media as an integral component of their relationship management strategy. It’s another channel for communication. Because social media is new and exciting, they’re able to create additional touch-points, deliver targeted content, and use the medium to stay in front of their clients between face-to-face meetings and telephone conversations.
Early adopters use social media as a topic of conversation with their affluent clients. They also use it to gather additional information about their clients that can help them manage the relationship on a more personal level.
- Action Step – Before your next meeting, identify a topic you can bring up in conversation based on information you’ve gathered from their profile, post, or comment.
3: Value Conversation– Even though you’re connected to a number of your affluent clients on social networks, you probably haven’t taken the social network conversation offline. This is quite easy, you simply direct your conversation to where you ask them about their usage – I know we’re connected on LinkedIn. Do you use it for business purposes?
Depending on their response, you want to explain something along the lines of -- A component of our communication strategy is to use LinkedIn to provide more value through timely and useful posts. Is there anything in particular you’d like us to post?
- Action Step – Contact 3 clients you are connected with on LinkedIn and have a value proposition conversation.
4: Get Personally Introduced– Our affluent research is quite clear, the #1 way today’s affluent discovered their financial advisor was through a personal introduction. Now that you’re discussing social media usage with your clients, the next step is identifying their connections that you’d like to meet. This creates a natural window of opportunity for a personal introduction, once again using social media, most likely LinkedIn as the conversation piece.
Your conversation can be as simple as– I see you’re connected to John Smith on LinkedIn. How well do you know him? If your client responds that he knows John Smith quite well, you can ask to be personally introduced.
- Action Step – Ask for one LinkedIn personal introduction a week.
5: Use LinkedIn as an Excuse to get Face-to-Face with Prospects -- The fact that you’re connected on LinkedIn is your window of opportunity to make personal contact through a phone call, with the sole objective of getting face-to-face. Determine the COI or prospect relationships you need to nurture and use LinkedIn as the reason you are reaching out.
Remember, these people are also early adopters so using LinkedIn as an excuse will come across as natural. You can say something like – It’s really important that I know everyone personally in my LinkedIn network. Let’s grab a cup of coffee or lunch to catch-up.
- Action Step – Contact two LinkedIn centers-of-influence / prospect connections a week and use the LinkedIn excuse for getting together.
For advisors interested in growth, as Howard explained to me in Los Angeles, some things never change. Let’s transition those online connections to offline! Let the tips outlined above serve as your guide.
Matt Oechsli  is the author of The Art of Selling to the Affluent. His firm, The Oechsli Institute  does ongoing research  and coaching  for nearly every major financial services firm in the US. To take the first step towards coaching, complete the pre-coaching business profile  for a complimentary consultation.