If you’ve ever traveled by train into a major city like New York or Boston, you’ve felt that surreal sensation of stepping out onto the busy street for the first time. In an instant, as you step onto the sidewalk, you’re propelled into the hustle and bustle as millions of people whiz by you, all focused on getting to Point B.
Suffice to say, stepping out of summer into fall conference season provides an eerily similar feeling. As soon as we flip our calendars to September, conference ads start popping into our social media feeds at 10 times the rate as before, and leaders from all corners of the industry begin comparing conference schedules and prepping their corresponding company news announcements. Suddenly, we’re heaved into a tizzy of award ceremonies, conferences and panels.
In the midst of all the noise, a busy conference season can be extremely advantageous for your long-term recruitment strategy — and if approached the right way, can create a much more fruitful advisor pipeline for your firm in the year ahead.
When your firm is focused on recruiting quality talent, there are specific practices I recommend you adopt before, during and after each conference to ensure you’re getting the most out of your time, cost investment and network.
Stage 1: Due Diligence
There are many reasons your firm will want to attend certain conferences, like cost, subject matter and target audience. But consider the recruitment opportunities that may exist there, and how you can set a plan around leveraging those opportunities while you’re on site.
Understand where you are in the recruitment process: It’s like squaring up to the basket before you shoot a basketball — if you enter into a recruitment strategy with two feet firmly planted, you’re much more likely to make the shot.
Take inventory of where you’re at in your process. Are you simply canvassing the industry to see what’s out there, or do you already have a detailed plan in place for the advisor you’re looking to hire?
Know who the speakers, sponsors and attendees will be — and reach out: Begin networking before you even step foot at the conference by researching who the speakers and sponsors will be ahead of time.
Also, consider tweeting to popular industry hashtags like #FinTwit to see who else will be in attendance — this is a great tool for setting up introductions ahead of the conference.
Think beyond the conference (literally): If you’re traveling to a region you’d be interested in recruiting from, add an extra day to your trip to take meetings with advisors who live in that city.
The face time goes a long way, and the extra day gives you the room to still be fully present during the conference.
Get your message straight: By far the most important piece of homework before any business development strategy — know who you are, and what you can offer advisors. Write it, practice it, workshop it.
This is the crux of who you are as a firm.
Stage 2: Networking
Having already established the game plan before the conference, you should be better equipped to use your time more efficiently and intentionally. During the event, it’s important you surround yourself with the right network of attendees who will help move the recruitment needle long-term.
Go where the prospects are: If you do the proper due diligence before the conference, you can make an informed decision about which breakout sessions are the most worthwhile to attend.