Important networking skills for consultants

For some financial advisers, the Internet is a pleasant part of their work; for others, it may be their least favorite. But all consultants will agree that this is a necessary aspect of the job. The network is important, not only to build your customer base, but also to consolidate your reputation. This is also a great way to practice communication and sales skills. Some consultants find it easy to strike up a conversation with new people. They like to joke and know how to talk about their business in a casual way. But for those who don’t have top-notch social skills or are uncomfortable selling themselves, there are some tips you can follow to make this process easier or at least less painful.

As with everything, practice and preparation are critical. If you don’t connect frequently, then your business is hurting your business. So, next time you find yourself in a web meeting or a large group, try these suggestions. (For more information, see: How to become a top financial advisor.)

speech

Come up with a short speech or presentation about yourself and your business, which you can use in any situation where you meet new people. You should practice what you want to express in your speech at home, with friends or family, so that you will adapt when you are online. You want your opening statement to sound casual and unrehearsed, even if it is not. (For more information, see: Network of Financial Professionals: Maintain a strong industry influence.)

In your meeting and greetings, you should include a basic description of your work and the services provided by your business. Then provide the audience with some information about the customers you serve and how you can help them better manage their funds, plan for retirement, or manage their inheritance. Be sure to give your business card to potential customers at some point during the discussion so that they know how to contact you if they decide to learn more about you and your services.

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Remember, a key part of a successful conversation is to sound fresh and real. You don’t want your opening speech to sound like a rehearsed speech, or it will close. The information you want to provide will make you stand out from the crowd and at the same time make the person you are talking to feel comfortable. You might even want to prepare some presentations, which you can handle according to the type of people you are talking to. (For more information, see: Growth strategies of financial advisors.)

Prepare for the problem

If the people you are in contact with start asking you questions, that’s actually a good thing. This shows that you have attracted their attention and they are interested in listening to what you are saying. Just make sure you are ready to answer their questions. Try not to make your answer sound like rote memorization. You don’t want to bore your audience or bombard them with the same speeches they might have heard from other consultants. Think of new ways and work hard to make your answers sound fresh. Potential customers or Internet people from other fields are likely to have questions about your background, the time you have been in the industry, and the types of customers you primarily serve. Remember, this discussion will solidify this person’s first impression of you, so you want to make it a good person. (For more information, see: Why advisers should avoid personal representatives.)

personal style

The people you associate with may also want to get to know you on a more personal level, which often helps them understand what type of businessman you may be. Therefore, if you have time to drink coffee or lunch during a social event or seminar, and talk to potential customers, you should try some daily small talk. Ask where the people you are talking to come from and where they grew up. Understand how they ended in the event and what type of business they were engaged in. You may also want to ask what some of their hobbies are, and what their hopes and goals for the future are. (For more information, see: Top 10 Lead Generation Tips for Financial Advisors.)

You want to make sure that your questions and answers are not just formulaic. You need to be really interested in this person and what they are going to say, otherwise you will appear hypocritical. Conversations include sharing ideas and should not just feel like a social opportunity for sales or business transactions. Likewise, before you leave the discussion, make sure that this person knows how to contact you. You can also ask if you can contact them for further conversation, it will not do any harm. If you do not follow up immediately thereafter, a good web conference may be idle.

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Bottom line

Social events may be uncomfortable for all participants, but there are many ways to use these opportunities to your advantage. Be prepared to talk about yourself and your business. And don’t forget to ask questions so that the conversation stays in the conversation, not a monologue. (For more information, see: Strategies to win consulting business in 2015.)

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