So far, so good in your networking with the wealthy. You’ve read all the articles. You dress right. You know what they talk and worry about. You’ve contributed to charities and joined the right groups. Now onto the testing.
Testing? What testing? What right do they have to test me? I passed all my licensing exams. I’m a certified financial planner. What do you mean, test me? They probably accept your credentials as presented. They may have done some online research. Testing is to determine if you are who you say you are and you really fit in. Are you interested in building personal relationships or are you an actor, playing a part to get business?
High-net-worth individuals have lots of choice when buying services. Lots of people want to be their friends, too. Many people with money are quite comfortable in their own skin. They make friends of different ages, backgrounds and income levels. But you need to pass the tests.
There are many tests. Here are a few they might spring on you.
You take client confidentiality very seriously. This is concerns personal information about people in their social circle.
Scenario: One evening over drinks in a 1:1 setting, your new friend might confide a secret. It concerns another person in their circle. Maybe they are having marital problems. An affair, perhaps. Whatever it is, it’s juicy.
How to fail. You are thrilled. You’ve been accepted as an insider. Since only an insider would know this secret, you must prove your newfound status to your friends by telling this secret. Although you bind them to confidentiality, they tell others. Word gets around. It gets back to that social circle and the people involved. But there are problems. The “secret” may or may not be true. More important, it was only shared with one person. You. You failed because you were indiscreet.
How to pass. When told the secret, you might say: “Thanks for letting me know” or “That’s interesting.” You file it away, not mentioning it to anyone, ever.
2. Drinking to Excess
You attend charity events. You are invited to people’s homes. The liquor is top shelf. It’s free.
Scenario: You are in a group, probably all the same sex. They are drinking. You are, too. You are drinking faster. No one makes any negative comments. They might even encourage you: “I see your glass is empty.”
How to fail. You get drunk. You slur your words. You stumble. It’s clear you can’t hold your liquor. You failed for a slightly different reason. By drinking too much, you showed poor judgment. This might also carry over into your professional life.
How to pass. Know your limits. Alternate water and wine. Say: “That’s it for me. I’m switching to coffee. I’ve got an early morning tomorrow.”
3. The Critical Comment
People can be surprisingly catty and insulting about close relations.
Scenario: In another social situation your newfound friend mentions a character flaw about their sister. Perhaps she drinks too much. They tell funny stories.
How to fail. You think this is hilarious. You also feel you’ve been let into the inner sanctum. Family secrets are being shared with you. In a future conversation with them, possibly with others present, you simply repeat the sister is a lush. Silence follows. The friend who told you this is offended. You have disrespected their sister. Family closes ranks. She may be a lush, but she’s our lush.