Our 2014 elite advisor data shows that networking is one of the top ways financial advisors land new business. While you probably have some of the basics down, the following are a few hacks to take your professional networking to an entirely new level. They involve understanding some basic body language cues and the psychology of human behavior.
1. Are you interrupting?
Approaching two people in the midst of conversation can be nerve racking for any advisor. You are basically interrupting and sometimes it’s hard to tell if the people in conversation are welcoming you or want you to beat it. But it’s part of networking and you can’t always be shy and wait for the conversation to end before you approach people. Here’s where a simple body language queue can make a big difference.
When approaching two people who are having a conversation, pay attention to the way they position their body. In particular, glance at their feet. If they turn their feet towards you and open up the floor, they want you to join. If they only turn their torso towards you, they don’t want you to join the conversation.
2. Are you memorable?
When you want to make a memorable impression, take advantage of the Serial Position Effect.
The Serial Position Effect is a term coined by German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus. Through his studies, he found that people have a tendency to remember the first (primacy) and last (recency) things to occur, and scarcely the middle. The graph below demonstrates the Serial Position Effect in recalling a list of words. However, this psychological effect can be applied to many things – from job interviews to television commercials.
So, during your next networking function (rotary meeting, chamber, etc.), approach your targets either at the beginning or end of the networking event. They are much more likely to remember you and recall the conversation. If you want to be remembered, don’t be in the middle! This will make your follow-up much easier.
3. Are you Likeable?
When meeting someone new, your objective is to build rapport and to be likeable. There are a lot of factors that impact the likeability of any advisor, but one way to accelerate this process is through giving compliments. According to a study by Professor Norihiro Sadato of Japan, a leading researcher on the psychology of compliments, “receiving a compliment is as much a social reward as receiving money.” Yes, money!
During your next networking event, work in a genuine compliment into the conversation. Maybe it’s a great pair of shoes, a tie, or their kids – just keep it genuine. We live in a world filled with criticism and everyone appreciates a genuine compliment.
Stephen Boswell and Kevin Nichols are thought-leaders and coaches with The Oechsli Institute, a firm that specializes in research and training for the financial services industry. @StephenBoswell @KevinANichols www.oechsli.com