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/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 a good answer to that question. If you don’t handle the situation correctly, you can do one of two horrid things:
You can possibly lose an opportunity to create a new client; or
You can become the social pariah of the century.
The first part of “what to do” takes place at the event. Other professionals are more well-versed on proper networking skills in this circumstance, but I’ll share their best advice: “Don’t pounce!” By asking prospects questions about their business you can gain valuable information. Your behavior will show that you are appropriately interested in them. You will also be able to determine out how to best to contact them later.
When you meet new people at a social event, they will often ask you “And what do you do?” If you’ve mastered the art of questioning people about their work life, you can frame your answer in a way that relates to them.
My friend, networker extraordinaire Michael Goldberg, has a favorite phrase: “Funny you should ask.” And it aptly applies when the other person asks you about your career.
If you truly listen to stories that prospects tell you about their business, you can formulate your answer in a way that applies to their life. This will give you the opening to start a real relationship with them.
If you have reveal prospects’ business challenges through ordinary social conversation, you can get them to expand on them 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.” This is your first chance to see if they’re 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’s why napkins were invented!!
It’s unlikely that someone will immediately pull out their smart phone and schedule an appointment in the middle of, say, a wedding party. (Though in these days of reliance on technology, who knows?) But they will give you their phone number —availing you of the opportunity to schedule the second conversation.