Chicago: “I read over and over in your research that ‘personal introductions’ are the number one marketing activity for advisors,” started Jim after our presentation to a group of new advisors. He continued, “I struggle with how the process works for newer advisors. I think it’s a lot easier for veterans. Can you break it down for me?”

Introductions are an extremely high impact activity when done correctly and they can be just as effective for someone who is brand new to the business as they are for a 30 year veteran. As a new advisor, your objective is to use this tactic on anyone who has connections to people of wealth. This could be a friend, family member, old colleague, rotary club member, etc. - anyone who has the potential of connecting you with someone you could do business with. Our research points out that in today’s environment the affluent make decisions based on word-of-mouth influence. The idea behind getting introductions is to stimulate word-of-mouth influence and for there to be a credibility transfer between the introducer and the advisor.

We broke down the following steps for Jim to help shed light on how the process works.

Personal relationships with contacts

The introduction process starts and stops here. If you enjoy personal relationships with your clients and personal contacts, this is one of the most powerful marketing tactics for financial advisors (like Jim said, our research points to this year after year). With these personal relationships in place, you can comfortably move to the next step of the process.

Conversely, if you do not have personal relationships, whether with your COIs or clients, if these relationships are more “superficial” or “strictly business” - introductions will be a challenge. If you do not have personal relationships with people who can provide you with introductions – get started. Set a weekly goal of face-to-face interactions with your top clients and COIs that are not business related (lunch, coffee, sporting event, intimate event, etc.). During these face-to-face interactions make an effort to really get to know them. What are their hobbies? Interests? Organizational involvements? Etc. Segue into more personal conversations with your contacts, share what’s going on with your life in an effort to get them to open up theirs.

Asking the “Who” Question

Penetrating centers-of-influence by getting introductions doesn’t work with an open ended question that sounds like a referral request. For example, “Who do you know that would benefit from a second opinion?” No matter what language we add to beautify this request it still comes across as graveling for business. But the larger issue is it puts the onus on the introducer. At this point, the introducer must rack their brain for someone who they think fits your client profile.

They contemplate questions like… Does my neighbor really have money? Is my golfing buddy the kind of guy my advisor would even want to work with? Is John in my cycling group going to think I’m pushing my advisor on him? Is Jane not happy with her advisor? These questions accomplish one thing – they freeze the introducer. This swirl of questioning in their mind stops them dead in their tracks. They shake their head, give affirmation that they will “think about it”, but rarely does the process progress.

We overcome this by asking to be introduced to a specific person. We don’t leave the question open ended, instead, we already know of the person we want to meet by identifying them ahead of time. We uncover this by asking the “who” question. For example; Who are you going to see over Thanksgiving? Who did you play golf with? Who did you travel with?

Also, websites like LinkedIn are great for sourcing names and helping you understand the relationship between people you currently know and people you want to know.

Asking for the Introduction

Less is more when it comes to asking to be introduced. If you want to be introduced simply ask your contact, “I’d love to meet X. What’s the best way to introduce me?” We work with advisors every day on the proper language, rhythm, and pacing that makes this an effective request. Just remember, as you are crafting your language keep it direct, use the name of the person you sourced, and above all – don’t over think this! Too many advisors feel the need to justify the reason for wanting to meet this person. This overthinking typically turns into a lack of action.

To help relieve this anticipatory anxiety, craft your responses to questions such as “Why do you want to meet them?” or “I’m not sure if they have any money” or “They already have an advisor.” These responses are not as common as you think, but it’s always good to be prepared. More than anything, it will give you more confidence going in.

Introductions are simple, but not easy. We spend countless hours working with Rainmakers and new advisors on this seemingly simple topic. Those who master it are capitalizing on today’s environment that is rife with affluent investor dissatisfaction. Roll up your sleeves, master this skill set, and you’ll have very little competition.