So you’re standing at a barbeque, beer and plate of chicken in hand, and you’re talking to another guest who is a pretty interesting person. You find out that he or she is a business owner, rather successful, and an intelligent and likable person. You can’t help thinking “This is the kind of business owner I’d like to have as a client.”
Now what do you do?
Unfortunately, many financial advisors don’t have the answer to that question clearly identified. You accidentally meet someone you perceive as a “prospect”–not someone to pass the time with. This could be a dilemma. If you don’t handle the situation correctly, you can do one of two not-so-terrific things: (1) you can possibly lose an opportunity to create a new client; or (2) you can become the social pariah of the century.
The first part of “what to do” takes place at the event. There are other professionals who are more well-versed on proper networking skills in this circumstance. I am not a professional networking teacher, but I’ll share their best advice: “Don’t pounce!”
By asking the other guest subtle questions about their business you can gain valuable information–and your behavior will show that you are appropriately interested in the other person. It will also enable you to find a reason to either call them later or possibly suggest a future meeting right at the party. Which strategy is more appropriate cannot be answered in a single sentence, but if you ask good questions, you might hear something that creates your opening.
Most folks will ask you “And what do you do?” at a social event. Have your answer ready and make sure it’s not a long-winded two-minute commercial. It’s best to speak in benefit statements rather than descriptive ones: e.g., “I help people to grow their money, keep as much as they can and be able to afford their dreams” vs. “I’m a financial advisor with ABC Insurance Company.” I also suggest you keep the focus on them and not yourself. If you are too eager, people will be turned off. As someone said to me recently about this phenomenon, “Watch your commission breath.”
If you have revealed this person’s business challenges through ordinary social conversation, you can get them to expand on them a bit at the party. Then you might say, “That’s something we have a lot of information about. This isn’t the right venue for us to get into detail, but I’d be happy to give you a call and schedule a time to talk further.” That is your first chance as seeing if they are amenable to an additional conversation.
People always ask me if they should bring business cards to social events. Remember, it’s more important to bring a pen than your business cards. First, who is going to call you back? No one. But your chance to make a follow-up call, such as in the above example, means that you will need to get their phone number. As far as I’m concerned, that was why napkins were invented!
It’s unlikely someone will immediately pull out their Blackberry and schedule an appointment in the middle of a wedding, party. (Though in these days of reliance on technology, who knows?) But they will give you their phone number and you now have an opportunity to schedule the second conversation.
The phone call to this new prospect needs to be structured as follows:
First: Say hello and your name.