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Practice Management > Building Your Business

10 Ways to Build Friendships With Wealthy People

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You’ve read lots of earlier articles. Let’s assume at this point you are acquainted with some wealthy people. You run across them often at events. They remember your name. You would like to “take this to the next level.” How do you become one of their friends, someone who gets invited to stuff, a person with whom they socialize?

Getting Rich People to Like You

We’ve established rich people like to be cultivated. They are used to being treated royally by people who want something. (This includes nieces and nephews!) We know wealthy people make new friends and know people in different age and wealth brackets. How can you get them to want you as a friend?

Approach #1: Bring Value to the Relationship

As a financial professional, you might think of this in a business context. Start by thinking on the personal level.

1. Find a job for their child. No, you aren’t getting them hired at your firm. They’ve graduated from school, yet don’t see the immediate need to move out, get their own place and pay for it themselves. Learn a bit about their education and interests. Look through your LinkedIn connections for people who could share some good career advice. Make some connections.

Why: Getting the little bird to leave the nest and fly on their own is a big issue for them. You helped solve it.

2. Give to their charity. They likely serve on a nonprofit board or two. One of the responsibilities of board members is fundraising. This also involves selling gala tickets. Write a check. Attend the event. Sit near them. Bid in the live auction, even if you lose out to deep-pocketed donors. Participate in the paddle raise they do for fundraising. FYI: Notice the word “charity.” Political campaigns are off the list for compliance reasons.

Why: Within their HNW circle, they support each other’s causes; it’s “give to get.” You are showing you realize this cause is important to them. You are putting your personal money forward.

3. Do prospect research for their charity. You do it for your own practice; why not use the same skills to find them prospects? Their fellow board members are probably pretty good at playing “Who knows whom.”

Why: Charities often go back to the same donors. Bringing in fundraising consultants can cost big bucks. You are providing a key part of this service for free.

4. Raise money for their charity. This is for people involved in the same cause, at a deeper level. As mentioned earlier, fundraising is an issue. You bring in some new donors. These get tallied in your column.

Why: They might hit up their friends, but they feel awkward about actual solicitation. Few people have the ability to look someone in the eyes and ask them for money. You do. Also, the organization’s prospects are likely good business prospects for you, too.

5. Find good deals. You’ve heard the rich are cheap, but don’t advertise the fact. If they are wine fans, get them aside privately and tell them about deals you’ve found.

Why: They love saving money. They will look forward to these conversations.

6. Tell them information first. Your firm’s research department follows their firm. They comment on earnings announcements. Your firm puts out reports on the competition. Share your firm’s thinking when the ink is literally still wet. They will share this insight with their fellow executives, secretly proud they came up with it first.

Why: The corporate world is competitive. Having information first makes them look good.

7. Write a letter to the editor. Tom Stanley, author of “The Millionaire Next Door,” came up with this one decades ago. Write a letter to the local newspaper in support of an issue that’s important to them. Mail a copy of the letter to your acquaintance, letting them know the issue is important enough for you to write a letter of support.

Why: Even if it doesn’t get printed, they know you made the effort.

Approach #2: Practice Graciousness and Civility

Most of us will agree graciousness and civility have been gradually eroding from everyday life. We often live “in the moment.” Many people seem self-centered.

8. Get their spouse to like you. In cultivation, the decision maker usually gets all the attention. Their spouse often feels treated like an onstage extra. Give equal attention to both. Remember details, like the brand of liquor each of them likes.

Why: Spouses are often very influential in each other’s business and personal relationships.

9. Send thank-you notes. It sounds so “Downton Abbey,” but it makes a statement. Handwritten personal notes arrive after the event took place. You thank them for inviting you to dinner. The notes are tangible. They often get saved.

Why: They know you were appreciative. They see you are attentive and detail-oriented.

10. Compliment their generosity. Often, nonprofit fundraising seems like this: “You have money. We need money. You should give your money to us.” As a third party who is a member of the organization, thank them for their generous gift.

Why: Another rule in the nonprofit word is “You can never thank someone enough.”

These are several ways you can transition from one of many acquaintances to the smaller circle of personal friends.

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