NexGen Planners: For Success, Never Wing It

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You’ve landed your first job in the financial planning profession. You attended your first FPA annual conference this October in Chicago. You made great connections and came back to work feeling recharged. Continue your trajectory of success with both your clients and employers with these tips:

Prepare. You have a meeting coming up and you have a vague idea of what you want to say, but you don’t formally prepare. You wing it. The meeting goes great because you exceeded your low expectations. You feel pretty good about yourself.

But what if you had prepared? You made note cards with key points. You memorized them. You ran through what you’re going to say a few times at home with your cat, dog, or spouse. Your performance may fall below your high expectations, but the prepared performance will beat winging it every time, said Hilary Blair, CEO and executive communication coach at ARTiculate Real & Clear, an executive coaching firm based in Denver.

Work on your executive presence. According to Blair, executive presence means to show up and be authentic, vulnerable, present and confident, while keeping your audience top-of-mind.

“It’s all about your audience,” Blair said in an informational video on her website. “Everything is about your audience, what they need to hear, not what you want to say or what you want to share.”

When you think of your non-verbal communication, what you should wear and say, make those decisions by considering what your audience needs and you’ll connect with them. Blair notes that we should dress so people can make a connection with us, not to impress them. Keep this in mind when you’re meeting with your boss or your clients.

The reason executive presence matters is because it is the thing that will inspire confidence and give you access to opportunities, says this Forbes article titled “Executive Presence: What Is It, Why You Need It And How To Get It.”

Always negotiate. When career coach and author Elizabeth Suárez got her first job, fresh off acquiring her MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, she was so happy to see how much they were offering her that she accepted the job without negotiating.

A few months in, she learned her male counterpart, hired at the same time with fewer credentials, made $40,000 more per year than she did. When she asked her supervisor why, she was told, “He asked and you didn’t.” She learned then to always negotiate. She wrote The Art of Getting Everything to teach people how to do the same. You may get a no, but you’ll never know if you don’t ask.

Consider professional development. If leadership, continuous learning and improvement are your goals, find some leadership training programs that can better help you in your career. As a young(ish) professional, I have found great value in the Latino Leadership Institute, from which I learned about all of the content in the above sections. Also, taking advantage of all the professional development opportunities available to you through membership organizations like FPA is key. I find tremendous value in the weekly webinars from the American Copy Editors Society. They help me learn new things every week to be better prepared at work. FPA offers the same for you. If you’re currently not a member, consider whether it’s a good fit for you.

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Ana Trujillo Limón is associate editor of the Journal of Financial Planning and the editor of the FPA Practice Management Blog. Email her at Follow her on Twitter at @AnaT_Edits.

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