Business is about relationships. Building relationships with other professionals is a great way to market your firm, build professional relationships, share costs, gain expertise and reach more of your target market.
If you’re like the majority of independent financial advisors, you have relationships with attorneys, accountants and CPAs. But what about other professionals like realtors, non-profit groups and human resource directors? Building a “dream team” of professional networking requires thinking out of the box. Advisor Today has come up with a list of professional advisors with whom you might consider contacting.
Attorneys are the old standby. Having a good working relationship with them benefits you and your clients. Attorneys are being granted more freedom to actively market their services, and like you, have a great need to increase their client base. They are often open to supporting a workshop. Having an attorney with the right specialty at your seminar is a great idea; he or she might even share in the cost.
CPAs are a given, but don’t forget accountants and bookkeepers. Often these advisors have or want to approach clients with pensions or other benefit plans, and might be interested in your perspective and advice. They are often open to small seminars designed to educate and solicit clients.
Business valuation experts are often among the first people non-tax advisors call when they are selling or buying a business. Once the valuation is done, there is a need for a buy-sell agreement and a funding mechanism. This is a good opportunity for you to team up with three advisors — a valuation expert, a tax advisor and a business attorney. The life and disability insurance sales can often be substantial.
Real estate agents have access to a steady stream of new people — people with income, jobs and sometimes get to invest proceeds from sale. Their clients need all kinds of insurance and information, while as an advisor you have access to clients who tell you about their plans. As a result, you can provide great leads to real estate agents. Teaming with realtors provides another win-win situation. You may share marketing costs with a real estate agent, provided your broker-dealer approves.
Other insurance and financial advisors are specialists. As a result, many employee benefits specialists, for example, may sell little or no individual insurance or investment products. And many specialty agents aren’t licensed to sell life, health or disability insurance. Joint marketing programs with these specialists could get you access to the business owner for estate planning or buy-sell funding. Your counterpart gains access to setting up the benefit plans or specialty insurance plans.
Non-profit groups and other professional organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce and professional associations are often very approachable.
Human resources directors and managers are usually the people who make the recommendations and buying decisions for employee benefits. Going beyond the traditional benefits (group health, disability, life and pension) there is a great marketing opportunity with these professionals to partner to hold informal educational presentations on financial topics. You become a valuable team member and have access to a large number of qualified prospects who need financial guidance.
Relocation specialists and executive recruiters have access to people moving between cities because their contacts are human resources managers and executive recruiters. The inbound employees often ask their real estate agents, relocation specialists, human resources staff or executive recruiters for referrals to insurance, financial, legal and other advisors.
Career and business coaches have good relationships with potentially successful business owners, and you have good relationships with business owners who might need an extra push. This is another great opportunity to jointly market your services.
While you may be successful at building these types of networks, chances are you aren’t spending enough time nurturing these relationships. Time spent on building relationships is an investment, with great ROI. Here are some tips to build upon your professional relationships:
- Invest time understanding their business, its challenges and their personal stories.
- Congratulate them when they are promoted or change companies. Send a congratulatory note and ask about the change. Use the opportunity to catch up on other matters and provide an update on your own status.
- Provide professional leads when you hear of something. Think beyond jobs and referrals to committees, board positions, speaking opportunities, writing assignments and special projects. Offer to provide an introduction if you’re comfortable doing so.
- Send a handwritten note along with a good book or article you read that you think the contact might appreciate.
- Ask their opinion and take advantage of their knowledge and expertise.
- Connect from time to time by scheduling lunch or drinks. Also, keep in touch via phone and email.
- Remember them at the holiday season. Send a card or corporate gift along with a personalized note thanking them for their time and referrals.
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