Good Communication = Great Networking

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Here’s a question sent to me by a financial adviser from one of the wire houses.

Hi Michael,
Can I bounce this off of you? I have been using LinkedIn to get back in touch with some friends and contacts. I have received some good responses. Really, I am following your idea that I just want to network, not sell. Please let me know if I should tweak my approach. Also, how do I answer a person who sent the response below and let them know that I am not trying to sell them but rather network? Thanks.

Here is the email I sent through LinkedIn:

Hi Bob,
Hope you are well. Wanted to say hello and see what you are up to these days. I am doing a ton of networking and finding that I am able to sometimes help friends of mine. Also, a lot of my friends have been connecting me with people that I can help as well. Would you be open to exploring that kind of an exchange?

Here is the response I got:

Nice to hear from you—the first thing that comes to my mind is your daughter—she must be in elementary school by now. I’ve been around the horn with investments and have worked with several firms. I like where I’m at, the philosophy, resources and approach. Best of luck to you.

OK, a few takeaways!

First and foremost, “Best of luck to you” suggests, “No, I’m not interested, but thanks anyway.” It’s an icy way to end a conversation with someone that probably doesn’t want to be bothered with such nonsense again. Why? Because Bob doesn’t see the value of the dialogue and feels defensive as the email appears to be one sided. Hey, can you blame him? But I do think the relationship can be resuscitated with Bob.

Is a Phone Call a Better Approach?
LinkedIn, Facebook or whatever social media platform you use will never replace the personal touch. If you’re looking to connect or reconnect with a name from the past, a phone call (I think there’s an app for that!) might be a better approach.

LinkedIn is a great platform to do research and “connect” with those you don’t know or don’t know well. Please don’t misunderstand—I think LinkedIn is awesome but probably not here, not now, and not with this.

Networking is about making the connection and ultimately exploring how you can help one another. As a financial adviser, broker, planner, or whatever, your perception of helping someone should not be the value of your product or service—unless they are a true prospect (someone who has told you they are open to becoming a client). Your “helping approach” should be genuine and aimed at helping those you meet and already know (natural market) to grow their business or support them in some other way. How do you know how you can help someone? Just ask.

Communication Is Everything
Your attitude drives your language. Language drives relationships, and relationships drive business. So if you’re truly looking to be a more effective networker, make sure your language is as clear as day; crystal clear. Although the email above suggested the intention to collaborate and help, the language wasn’t clear and therefore misunderstood by the recipient who thought he was simply going to be pitched.

Finally, if there is an elephant in the room, introduce it! As a financial adviser, those you speak with are already on the defensive (as in they think you’re just looking to sell them something), so set their minds at ease by focusing on the purpose of your call or email (to brainstorm, exchange ideas, and explore how you might help one another) and on the relationship. If there is a true connection and you develop the relationship properly, a referral or introduction to true prospects will be there. And if not now, then later.

Remember, networking is about farming not hunting. It’s about planting seeds and developing a harvest in the form of solid relationships and referral sources.

How many networking conversations do you establish on a daily basis? And how many relationships do you need to resuscitate?

Building Blocks Consulting LLC
Jackson, N.J.

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