Online networks are great for getting to know your future colleagues, but real connections are still made face-to-face.
Don’t just wait for industry events to make contact. If you’ve identified another advisor who is
interested in merging or partnering, offer to buy them a coffee so you can meet and chat about your respective goals.
There’s a lot of good advice out there for networking over coffee: First, respect your prospect’s time – have an objective in mind before you meet up. Following that, make sure you pay for the drinks, send a thank you note when you’re done and be sure to keep the dialogue going afterwards.
Those are the broad strokes.
Considerate and Accommodating
Beyond those basics however, to make the most meaningful connections – the kind which leads to joint casework or the start of a succession relationship – you must be willing to put your own pitch to the side for a time.
“That’s a big part of it,” says advisor and FindBob founder, Roland Chan. “You need to treat other advisors the same way you would treat a client. You want to understand that individual’s needs before you jump into proposing a solution for them. Everyone wants to pitch, but if you straight up pitch them without listening first, you’re not going to get the desired effect.”
Instead, he suggests going into each meeting with a plan to listen intently. “They’re interested in
speaking with you because they’re trying to solve a problem of their own,” he says. “Go in there with a helpfulness mindset. Offer support and really be authentic about it. Don’t always be thinking about what other people can do for you.”
To respect your prospect’s time, first, do some research. Understand that advisor’s practice as well as you can.
There are a number of reasons why advisors can be interested in meeting up with colleagues. A living benefits producer, for example, will often find himself or herself with clients who have registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) needs.
“They may not have the bandwidth, the time or the resources to execute on those opportunities. In that case, their objective is to see if they can find someone who is like-minded, someone with a similar business philosophy.” An advisor in that position will be looking for someone with enough skill to help clients, but also to help create some cross-selling opportunities, as well.
“That’s just one example,” Chan adds. “Not every need is going to be that clear-cut.”
The Important Follow-Up
Because most business relationships are not forged in one meeting, following up with your prospect is just as important, if not more important, than your initial meeting. Some relationships can take years to develop and manifest their true, full potential.
If you’re a young advisor who is new to networking, it can be helpful and perhaps reassuring to know that many advisors enjoy meeting with colleagues to talk about business.
“There’s a fellowship aspect to our industry. Many successful producers received mentorship. There’s definitely a culture of wanting to give back.”
And while it may take many meetings over coffee to find the right match, most successful producers in the industry are relationship focused, making initial meetings that much easier to navigate.
No matter the dynamic, however, listening intently and offering support is the best way to make your coffee meeting productive. “Don’t keep the conversation on yourself. We all love to talk about ourselves, but asking in-depth questions and following up with educated responses is a much better tactic,” Chan says. “Always make sure you’re putting your focus on the other party, and not on yourself.”