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When Is the Last Time You Went Outside Your Comfort Zone?

I recently went outside my comfort zone, when I biked across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Sure, I was with 100 other riders, I slept in hotels on two nights, and I knew I had the security of the SAG truck that would pick me up if I couldn’t complete the day’s ride. Still, it was my legs that peddled the 190 miles and climbed the 10,000 feet of the adventure. The resulting emotional effect at the end of the ride was glorious. It led me to ponder the extent to which we avoid going outside our comfort zone, especially as we age.

I googled the comfort zone concept and learned a few things:

  • Challenging ourselves helps us perform at our peak. No surprise. It’s like interval training for an athlete—without some difficulty, we fail to learn, grow and get better.
  • Risk helps us rise to the occasion. Although we don’t want to take risk all the time, taking some risk helps us put aside fear of failure, a fear that often leads us to settle and holds us back.
  • It is important to keep putting ourselves out there throughout life. Taking calculated risks keeps us open to experience and makes us more interesting! And while it’s true that our comfort zone enlarges over time, learning new skills improves our well-being as we age.
  • Calculated risk is the name of the game. The Yerkes-Dodson Law refers to the relationship between risk and performance. Risk enhances performance up to a certain level. Beyond that point, good stress becomes anxiety, which interferes with performance.

My recent experience made me ponder the risks I’ve taken in my life and career. It led me to think about the aging of advisers in our industry and the increasing emergence of lifestyle practices. You may need to contemplate whether this concept applies to you or not. But if it does, one is wise to do things like:

  • Find ways to incorporate challenges into daily life
  • Make a snap decision if you are a cautious, deliberate decision maker or, if you tend to make snap decisions as a norm, try taking a slower, more planned and deliberate decision-making approach
  • Find small ways to stretch yourself every day, turning it into a habit over time

Ultimately, I have realized that I need to challenge myself more; maybe you do, too. So whether in work or personally, find a way to take a calculated risk that puts you outside your comfort zone. The benefit is learning something new that will serve you indefinitely.

Joni Youngwirth_2014 for webJoni Youngwirth
Managing Principal of Practice Management
Commonwealth Financial Network
Waltham, Mass.


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3 Ways to Manage Your Time on Social Media to Get Results

You’ve heard social media marketing is a must. You know you need to engage potential clients in the places where they are: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and the like. You understand there is value participating in the social sphere, but you haven’t quite cracked the code on how and where to invest your energy to make it pay off.

Rather than espouse theory on what could work, I want to share exactly what I do. This combination of three ways to engage has returned exponentially to me in direct clients and opportunities I could not have anticipated.

By implementing all three ways outlined below, you will know where to spend your time and gain the most leverage out of your effort:

1: Daily interaction
You’ve been told to spend 10 or 15 minutes a day on social media, and you can have an impact. While I don’t subscribe to this tactic as your only engagement, allocate time each day for commenting, sharing and otherwise participating in the social media ecosystem. Daily interaction is almost always ‘reactive’ as you respond to what others post.

Examples:

  • You attend an industry event and Tweet a photo, tagging others in the shot.
  • You congratulate a client on a recent promotion you read about on LinkedIn.
  • You comment on a post an estate planning attorney shares on her firm’s Facebook page.
  • You “retweet” and “favorite” an article published by a journalist you want to meet
  • You read an article that is spot-on for your target audience and you post an update on your company LinkedIn page.

2: Weekly Sharing
An effective adviser marketing plan starts with weekly content creation or curation aimed specifically at the concerns and aspirations of your target client.

Whether you create a blog post, a video or a podcast, social media expands your distribution pushing your message from the limited traffic of your website out to your social followers. This often overlooked act opens up the number of people who may view, like and share your content. Each time you upload a blog post or publish a new video, be sure to share it across all of your social media accounts.

Examples:

3: Quarterly Campaigns
Proactive sharing of the story you want your target audience to hear comes alive through your quarterly content campaigns. Take a page from the advertising agency media playbook where you carve out a distinct time periods across the year (quarterly works well) where you focus your content on a single theme. Plan and set it up in advance, streamlining the time you invest in the effort.

Here’s how:

  • Select your first topic that you want to share (e.g. The 20 Financial Tasks Middle Managers Must Complete before Retirement)
  • Identify all of the content you already have that fits this topic (blog posts, newsletter articles, write-ups from a financial plan or client email excerpts)
  • Craft new content (think “tips”)
  • Pinpoint the “holes” in your campaign. Find resources, articles, photos, or other professionals who can provide the content. Fill in any remaining blanks with your advice.
  • Break down the content into posts for Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, or whichever platforms your audiences uses.
  • Set up and schedule the content distribution in advance through Hootsuite (http://www.hootsuite.com) or Buffer (http://www.buffer.com)
  • Announce the campaign at the start of each quarter to let your prospect email list, your clients, and your followers know what to expect.

The quarterly campaign is where you gain leverage in your marketing. You repurpose existing content, you have a reason to craft new content that you can reuse, and you guarantee that you will show up regularly with a message that reinforces what you want your target audience to read or see from you.

When you set up a campaign each quarter, you can rest assured that if your daily interactions fall to every few days, your weekly sharing slips to semi-monthly, you have to deal with the quarter end, or you want to take a vacation, you will have a campaign supporting you in the background.

Sounds like it’s worth the time, right?

Kristin Harad 2014Kristin Harad, CFP®
Marketing trainer for advisers
www.kristinharad.com
implement-now.com
San Francisco

Editor’s Note: Kristin Harad has several great pieces on how to branch out and attract and engage clients virtually, including this one that was published in our March 2015 issue titled, “9 Steps to Building a Client-Attraction Virtual Event.” 

For more educational opportunities, check out our webinar titled “Introduction to LinkedIn for Business,” presented by Susan Catalano. Or register for FPA BE Boston 2015 to meet one-on-one with social media and websites business coach Maggie Crowley of Advisor Websites


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Anticipating Change in Your Business

Nothing is predictable—in life, the financial markets or our industry—except, of course, change itself. Let’s explore a few somewhat predictable events that tend to bring change, for better or for worse, to advisers’ practices.

“Man, Woman, Birth, Death, Infinity”
If you recognize that quote, you’re probably in your 60s and remember the popular TV show Ben Casey. The series opened with the elder professor teaching his physician protégés about the path of human existence. From the birth of a child through adulthood, procreation, health issues and ultimately death, the trajectory of life is fairly predictable.

Whether they happen to you or a family member, colleague, employee, client or friend, these life events can have an impact on your business. For example, the birth of a child may prompt a young employee to quit work or ask for paternity leave. The 60-year-old adviser may take time off when her first grandchild is born, while the 40-year-old might buckle down and focus more than ever in anticipation of college expenses ahead. When you think about it, the path of human existence is constantly affecting your practice in some way, shape or form.

Leases, Partnerships, Growth, Industry Evolution
You haven’t heard that list on any TV show, but these factors also lead to change at regular intervals throughout the life cycle of a financial advisory business.

  • The end of a lease. I’ve noticed that a lease coming up for renewal can be a crossroads for many advisers. For one, it may present an opportunity to buy the office building; another may see it as a chance to gain space for targeted growth over the long term. One adviser will simply renew the current lease, while another may take the opportunity to minimize office expenses.
  • A shift in a partnership. Partnerships evolve, too. As one partner experiences change due to personal factors such as those mentioned above, it can be like shifting tectonic plates in the partnership. Say one adviser has a health scare and the more reticent partner takes the helm of running the business. The emotional dynamic caused by the shift is palpable. At such junctures, lifelong relationships between colleagues can unravel or thrive.
  • Business growth. Whether an adviser’s success is due to skill, geography, luck, inheritance, passion, the market or other factors, at some point, it becomes clear which firms are consistently growing and which level off. In either case, inertia kicks in; the business in motion tends to stay in motion.
  • An evolving industry. Like individuals, industries are born, change and pass away. Time will tell how long the financial advisory and planning industry endures. Advisers who joined the profession 40 years ago, 20 years ago and today will face very different circumstances to which they must adapt.

What Changes Will Your Practice Confront?
Change is constant and often predictable. But it’s easier to see that when you’re looking in the rearview mirror—just ask any adviser in the second half of his or her career. For those still in the early stages, it’s worth keeping an eye out for all the predictable changes down the road. As the saying goes, we don’t get hit by the things we see coming!

Joni Youngwirth_2014 for webJoni Youngwirth
Managing Principal of Practice Management

Commonwealth Financial Network
Waltham