From the October 2007 issue of Investment Advisor • Subscribe!

Beware the Seminar, My Son

Like many advisors look to build an independent practice, Jim Dew saw seminars as a great way to attract clients. As he discovered the hard way, it's a method that can deliver results, but, it's not easy.

"It's like a buddy of mine who was in the Marine Corps told me, 'I'm glad I did it, but I'd never want to do it again,'" Dew says wistfully. "I'd offer what a lot of guys do--people could meet with me for an hour after they came and heard me speak."

He says he knew that if he did a seminar that a few of those people in the audience would likely become good clients. What he didn't realize when he started was how many hours he would have to spend with people who really weren't a good fit for him, or vice versa. He also was unaware of the toll it was taking both on him personally and on his staff.

"When you open yourself up to something like that, you don't just meet positive people, you meet a lot of negative people too," he says, with hard-earned experience. "I didn't realize at the time that interacting with negative people during the day drags you down, just like interacting with positive people brings you up. Since I stopped doing seminars, I have so much more fun at my job than I did."

In retrospect, he realizes that he probably relied on seminars for longer than necessary. "I went a year beyond when I could have, maybe should have stopped seminars, because of my own insecurities. When you build a business just through grinding it out and seeing lots of people, it's hard to change that mindset. When I stopped doing seminars I thought I was never going to get another client. It was hard for me to just sit here and wait for the phone to ring. But it does."

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