In my business, I speak to many financial advisor groups. One year, I asked just about every one of my advisor audiences if they felt networking worked for them. A measly 1 percent said they thought networking had worked for them. Wow.
And yet, at the same time, networking is the #1 strategy recommended to those just starting out in the industry. So, is this good advice or a total waste of time? Why do people recommend networking anyway? It’s easy to tell someone else to do something you think should work. But the question you need to answer is if and how networking works for you. Is there a secret to networking?
Networking, according to those who do it successfully — meaning they have gained significant new business from the activity of networking — is not about collecting and giving out business cards. It is not about finding people who may be good prospects for your firm.
Successful networking is about finding and cultivating potential advocates, people who will help you reach your goals. Don’t try to find your next hot prospect. If you go about networking with an eye toward finding prospects, you will call them, try to sell them something and turn them off — guaranteed.
But if you go about networking with an eye toward finding and cultivating advocates, you will achieve a totally different result. An advocate is someone who is already well connected and may or may not ever become your client.