“I’m not in the same social circles as the affluent in my community. Also, I’m a lot younger than most of these people, so I’m at a bit of a loss,” griped Gerry before asking in a pleading tone, “Is there anyway I can break into these social circles?”
The short answer is an unequivocal “Yes!” I explained to Gerry that many of these older wealthy members of his community may have children his age, and it’s not unusual for them to be in circulation at these events. Which means, age isn’t a barrier.
So how does Gerry become a participant in these affluent circles of interest? It’s simple—by getting invited to their social events. But it does require a game plan that involves work. The following is what I’ve outlined.
Assess Your Brand: As you know, in the world of intangibles, you are the product. You are the brand. This is where you need to be self-aware and willing to accept tough feedback from other professionals, associates, friends or family.
It’s important to consider how you carry yourself, your personal presence and your people skills. This is all about developing rapport by asking certain questions that others enjoy answering, being a good listener and then asking relevant follow-up questions. So many advisors talk too much and listen too little.
Identify the Events: This is where the homework begins. You need to be dialed-in to what’s happening around town. This can range from fundraisers, charity events and birthday parties to concerts, gallery openings, music in the park or even tailgating and cookouts—the list goes on.
Your top clients and COIs are where you begin. Place a non-business call, “just to catch up” and find out what’s going on in their lives. If there’s an event that they’re planning to attend, you’re likely to find out in this conversation.
Identify the Potential Attendees: This is usually accomplished in step one, but I like to make it a step of its own, because I’ve seen advisors skip this detail and end up attending the event without a game plan. No game plan leads to missed opportunities. What this requires is getting your client or COI talking about the event, what’s it going to be like and who will be attending.
Develop Your Strategy: Here is where the rubber meets the road. This step is not for the timid; your goal is to get yourself invited to the event. There are a number of approaches:
- During the conversation with your client, you express interest in the event and your client invites you.
- Invite yourself during the client conversation: “Is there any way this event can handle two more guests? Sandy and I would love to attend.”
- If you know a potential attendee, call them and reference the event, expressing interest, and get invited or invite yourself.
- If it’s a celebratory event, such as a birthday or retirement party, insist on dropping off a gift during the event.
- If it’s a fundraiser or a charity event, inquire about getting involved in the cause, and ask if you can accompany your client.
- Communicate with the organizer of the event and volunteer to help, as manpower is usually a scarce commodity.
Execute: Now that you’ve been invited, it’s important to have that game plan (we refer to as strategic intent)—Who are you going to meet? How are you going to develop a rapport? How are you going to uncover the next event many of these affluent people will be attending? How are you going to follow up?
Also, I’ve found that spring and summer are the best seasons to get social for most community and charity events, where you’ll meet those affluent prospects.
Matt Oechsli is author of Building a Successful 21st Century Financial Practice: Attracting, Servicing & Retaining Affluent Clients. www.oechsli.com