What is the No. 1 indicator of success?
“Social intelligence,” Maribeth Kuzmeski said at the outset of her afternoon keynote at the Cambridge Women Advisors Forum in Denver, Colo. on Thursday.
The author and president of consulting firm Red Zone Marketing told the 75 female advisors in attendance that “the most intelligent person in the world would not be successful without social intelligence,” which she defined as the ability to “connect and communicate.”
“Most advisors have a high level of social intelligence,” she explained. “But like anything else, it needs to be constantly worked on. Like marriage, even a good one, what happens if you don’t work on it?”
A problem, she noted, is that there are no courses to take to help increase a person’s social intelligence because advisors “are just supposed to have it.”
Referring to her book, titled “The Connectors,” she asked attendees to consider how many truly powerful connections they have. The average is five, she offered. For most successful people, the average is 100.
“What’s the difference between 5 and 100?” she again rhetorically asked. “Everything—think of what it would do for your business if you were to increase the number to 10, or to 20.”
Relating a recent anecdote from a Harvard Business Review study, Kuzmeski said researchers from MIT invited subjects to participate in a business plan competition. The night before the competition, researchers observed the contestants at a cocktail reception, and identified the individual they believed would win the competition, based solely on their interpersonal skills.
“Sure enough, the person the MIT researchers picked won the competition, even though it was a completely different set of judges and even though the researchers had not even read the business plan.”
It’s not about dissecting the latest mutual fund product or breaking down an annuity for the client, she added. The advisor has to be able to do those things; but in order to truly serve the client you must be the best “at servicing the relationship.”
“Too often, we want to keep the personal relationships separate from our business relationships. But why? Think about it; your best relationships are your personal relationships; they want to do business with you.”
She then moved to the thrust of her presentation, which were the four “absolutes” she believes advisors must employ in order to successfully connect with clients and prospects.