Everyone knows the idiom “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” It has been used for decades by anyone looking to dish out advice. Of all the sayings this one rings as true as any.
“It’s not what you know, but who you know.” We like to think that what we know matters, and it does. We need to know how to work with clients, manage their portfolios, and be the experts they trust. As advisors, we provide a lot if important services for our clients, so we don’t like to hear that what we know doesn’t matter.
But don’t we all know of, or have heard of someone who doesn’t provide the level of service, expertise, or professionalism we do. Yet they still grow their business year after year. The are successful almost paradoxically. Why is that? It is because of the relationships they have with their clients and the community. A good relationship is so powerful that even when some pretty severe mistakes are made they can be overcome with relative ease.
So, what do we do? We need to have it both ways, and we want to have it both ways. We need to know our industry to be effective. We also need to add the client and community relationships to our system. It can be one of the most important and enduring tactics of our careers.
How do we do create those relationships?
Manufacturing a relationship out of thin air is sometimes awkward and can feel forced. But there are ways to spend time with those clients you want to do business with. You can begin to develop a comfortable relationship with them by just being around them.
For example, I have become very involved in the chamber of commerce of two local cities. They are focused on assisting the development of their members and building community bonds. There are multiple events throughout the year and the attendees are mainly people from the local businesses and business owners.
These events are a great way to start the relationships that will be critical to your future success. It will not be an overnight process. If you start to force the situation and turn it into a place to present your personal sales pitch you will fail. The goal must be relationship building, not making a sale. It takes time to build relationships. If you haven’t yet built them to the level you would like its ok. Starting years ago would have been ideal. The next best time for you to start is right now.
The chamber of commerce is just one way to build relationships. There are other ways to get in front of your audience. Wherever your targets congregate is where you want to be. It can be hard to figure out where that is. It will take some effort to do the research. Once you find out where to go, dive in hard. Be intentional with who you spend time with and where you spend that time. Be a volunteer for their events. Join their associations and clubs. Get to know them as best as possible. You will someday become know as the go-to person for financial help and advice. When they are ready to engage you for your services is when you will make the sale. If you try to force the issue before that you will be just spinning your wheels.
Currently, I am not executing fully on the topic of this article. But I am trying my best to get there. I have decided on some action steps to get me moving on the right path. These steps could be a starting place for you too.
First, I printed out the schedule of events for both chambers. I then went through the whole year with Luke and we put the events into our calendar. We scheduled them far in advance to make sure nothing else crept in to steal that time in the calendar. When we attend we try to strike up conversations with everyone we can.
Second, I have made a plan to research some professional associations. There is someone in every organization that is the proper decision maker for implementing their 401k plan (my area of focus). Usually, this is the CFO. However, most of the time we don’t get to talk to the CFO until we have talked wth the head of the HR department. So, we know both groups are important, we have to understand both of their points of view. The research should be focused on HR associations and CFO associations. If it sounds strange that there would be an association for them, it isn’t. There are associations and groups of people meeting up for every cause and position you can think of. It’s quite amazing really.
Lastly, pull the trigger. Scheduling and researching are great and even necessary, but, if you don’t act you will never make any progress. Joining organizations and associations cost money and take up your time. Don’t think about it as a cost. It is an investment with the potential to pay off many more times than the cost to begin.
Currently, I have made it through step 1. The chamber events are on the calendar. They are fun and I already have begun to develop some good relationships. The second part is on my big list of to-dos. I have done some cursory research and made a list of interesting associations to look into deeper. I would like to start attending their meetings and try to be a speaker in front of their whole group. It is a work in progress but I will get there.
I will let you know along the way if I come across any ideas or strategies to better create those relationships. Hopefully, I find something that works. Let me know if you have something that works too.
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