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Practice Management > Building Your Business > Prospect Clients

Bars and Advisors: A Great Match (for Prospecting)

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What You Need to Know

  • Becoming a regular in a bar that your prospects frequent is a great way to build your market niche.
  • If you don't drink, this strategy will work just as well at a coffee shop or lunch counter.
  • Best of all, a coffee shop or luncheonette is a great leveler. Everyone is equal there.

That got your attention, didn’t it? Although bars will feature prominently, there are other ways to apply this strategy to meet high-net-worth people without consuming alcohol. Read on.

Bars and Advisors

Most people would agree that joining the country club is a good way to surround yourself with people who have the potential to be clients. Unfortunately, the barriers to entry are high. First, you’ve got to get in. This requires being proposed, seconded and accepted. There might be a waiting list. There might be an initiation fee. Annual dues, too. Let’s not forget the monthly minimum in the bar and restaurant. Those are some barriers.

There’s an easier way to achieve a similar outcome. Let’s assume you have a market niche. It might be lawyers, accountants or engineers. It might be police officers. You get the idea.

Find the likely places where you would find a concentration of these professionals. Consider the following exercise. Let’s assume your target market is corporate lawyers. Look up the major firms in town. One simple way is to page through the “Book of Lists” produced by your local business journal. Find a list of the top 25 law firms in town. Look at No. 1 on the list. Where is they office? Is this the headquarters?

Visit the building. Look at the directory. How many floors do they occupy in the building? Ten? That’s a lot of lawyers!

Now, look around the lobby and the adjoining buildings until you find the nearest bar. It’s probably got a restaurant attached. This is your new after-hours drinking spot.

Nor all lawyers drink, but if there are 10 floors of attorneys, it’s likely some do. They would go to the most convenient location for a drink before heading home. Yes, attorneys work long hours, but not all of them. They have families at home, but some are single, returning to an empty house or apartment. Bars provide a social atmosphere.

Make it a point to visit at the same time each day, several days a week. Maybe you are there from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Sit at the bar. Watch the game on TV. You are becoming a regular. Don’t push business. Talk about the game. You will make friends. They will draw you out with some icebreaker questions and learn what you do.

Lawyers know the role financial advisors play in people’s lives. Their clients might need a referral. They might need some help themselves.

Just don’t develop a drinking problem!

Luncheonettes and Advisors

You don’t drink. Maybe you want another strategy for earlier in the day. I interviewed a bank president who first used this strategy when he was a loan officer and continued with it as he rose through the ranks. He still used it as president, unless a meeting conflicted.

His advice was to find a coffee shop or luncheonette in an area with lots of small-business owners. In New York, the garment district might be a good example. Come for breakfast every day. (This strategy also works at lunchtime, but you do one or the other. You aren’t alternating.) 

Arrive at the same time every day. Sit on a stool at the counter. Your coffee shop or luncheonette must have a counter. Coffee shops where people stand in line and carry out exclusively don’t count. (You’ve seen this type of luncheonette on episodes of “NCIS.”) Order your breakfast. Take your time eating. Talk with the people around you. Gradually, you become part of the morning crowd. People get to know you and you learn about them. 

The bank president commented that the amount of business he got was unbelievable. Why? Because the luncheonette is a great leveler. Everyone is equal. He told the story of a guy learning he was a bank president from another patron, deciding to walk up and ask about a loan for his business. The president “must be OK, because he eats in the same place as me.”

Think about this strategy. You aren’t smiling and dialing. You aren’t stuck behind your desk. You are out in the community, meeting people, raising your visibility and doing something you would likely be doing anyway! What’s not to like?


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