Why advisors need communication strategies
By Michael Goldberg
Knock Out Networking
You need communication strategies. And good ones, too!
As a reminder, the focus of my last few articles have highlighted the elements of my eight step networking action plan (NAP). A “standing eight count” of sorts, just to pull a cool boxing reference in.
So far, I've discussed readiness, modeling and target marketing. The fourth element is communication strategies.
When you’re participating in (not just attending) networking events, cocktail parties, chamber mixers, golf outings, association meetings, alumni events, service clubs — are you asking the right questions? Are you asking any questions? How are you getting your message to your network and into your marketplace? Are you? Do you know how to start a conversation (with a stranger, that is)? Maintain a valuable conversation (beyond talking about the weather and other idle small talk)? End or transition out of a conversation — for good reasons and bad? And do you know what to say when someone is actually interested enough to ask you about what you do?
If not, consider some of these strategies.
Networking is all about learning and helping those that you like. That’s it! If you do this regularly, those people you like will help you right back! That’s the way it works. And there are only five reasons why people network in the first place: to generate business, land a job, learn something, make social connections (friendships, dating, etc.), and solve a problem. Yes, some of these motives are interrelated, but that’s the gist.
So, with these thoughts in mind, consider these three important communication strategies.
If you ask the right questions, you get the right answers! Just saying. Anyway, there are two types of questions: conversational and proprietary. Conversational questions focus on social and business elements that help you make a connection, set the tone and potentially learn something. Hopefully, you get these types of questions asked of you, too.
What type of work do you do? Do you like what you do? Why? How did you get involved in your business/career/profession/industry? How do you market your business? What other networking events do you attend? Do you have a target market? If so, why? If not, why not? What are you looking to accomplish here? Who do you ultimately need to meet? Who is a perfect prospect for you? If I met them, how would I know? What can I do to help you?
Notice how all of these questions are focused on them? That’s networking! If you’re sincere, they’ll make it about you!
Proprietary questions focus on a specific topic that you’re looking to learn more about. If you’re focused on a specific industry, you would probably ask these types of questions. How long have you been in the business? What has been your experience in the industry over the last four years? What do the trends look like moving forward? What are some of the top companies? How are they similar to one another? How do they differ? What are some of the top publications in the industry? What are the most well attended associations? Can you suggest brokers that I could speak with to potentially learn more?
The key to proprietary questions is you need to know where to go and with whom to ask. I’ll discuss places to go and people over the next few weeks.
Your elevator pitch
You must have a succinct and specific way to talk about what you do and with whom. It needs to be interesting, engaging, clear and action oriented. Did I mention specific? A format I really like is what I call The PEEC statement: profession, expertise, environment, call to action.
Profession: Who you are, what you do, and with whom.
I’m a financial advisor with ABC Financial Group, focused on helping small businesses with their financial management.
Expertise: The two or three areas you know a lot about or are learning about.
I’m developing expertise in the areas of life insurance, annuities and retirement planning.
Environment: Your target market or those you serve best and therefore wish to serve most.
I’m establishing a niche with real estate companies like XYZ Realtors.
Call to action: Bottom line; what you want.
I’m looking to meet or be introduced to a broker of XYZ Realtors in the Chicagoland area. Any advice, insight, or recommendations you have on how to make connections like this would be great!
Use this statement as a way to answer questions, have a back and forth conversation (what a conversation should be, actually), and as a commercial at your next networking meeting.
A WE mindset
My 9-year-old daughter, Jessica, beats me miserably at the video game Wii. Wii bowling, boxing, baseball, you name it. One day, I asked her how she got to be so good. She replied, “Daddy, it’s a Wii thing!” I offer you the same advice. The way you network and ultimately communicate with people is a WE thing, not a ME thing.
Should we exchange business cards and explore how we might help one another? How might we refer each other more business? It’s a we thing.
How you talk to people is critical to how you network and with whom. Who do you need to contact today to practice these approaches?