In my line of work at IFP, I often have to build relationships with some unfamiliar faces. This means I’m constantly breaking out of my comfort zone, having some off-topic discussions, and turning those conversations into fruitful business arrangements. There’s no secret sauce or some mystical influence I have over other individuals – it’s just me and my decades of experience as a financial professional.
Whether you can offer the other person a new concept, strategy, or the keys to help unlock their hopes and dreams, a genuine relationship is the spark that ignites that fire.
Humanizing the Professional
If you initially communicate through email with an individual, don’t take their initial rigid speech to heart. Most people sound a bit mechanical when they type, which is simply a product of people meticulously picking apart their own writing before sending off a professional communication. We all do it – don’t overthink their overthinking.
Remember, you’re just trying to get a face-to-face conversation rolling as quickly as possible.
When you finally get that in-person opportunity, treat the person sitting behind the desk as a human being. They have their own dreams, aspirations, and business goals. Before throwing them some hard sell technique you learned in business school, slow down, gauge their personality, and get a feel for their beliefs. This helps later when you need to find common ground that will act as a catalyst to kick start your relationship.
Just as you can acknowledge them as a living, breathing person, you need to be one as well. While you should respect their position as a professional, a close relationship can only make your life easier. This closeness will allow you to openly communicate with them as issues or opportunities arise, potentially enabling you to more easily reach a reasonable and productive conclusion.
Sharing Common Goals
Without a common business goal, there’s no point to a professional relationship. Now, before you call up that contact you didn’t click with and burn the bridge, know that each connection established is a possible opportunity. Even if it doesn’t work out with that person, someone in their network might be looking for a financial advisor. Add that old connection on LinkedIn, ask them how their kids are doing from time to time and stay engaged.
As long as you find professionals that share your values and/or business goals, it’s worth staying connected.
Schedule Some Time
Should you start working together, it’s important to spend time with them on a regular basis. Whether they accept your offers or not, the gesture does not go unnoticed.
Be Helpful…But Not Too Helpful
If you’re like me, I naturally enjoy helping people. While this can help build a stronger bond with stakeholders in your new environment, people can take advantage of your good will. Financial advising is also about getting paid for your advice, so next time they want you to look over their entire financial situation, you might consider telling them to make an appointment.
Dealing with Difficult People
I know I’ve focused mostly on the scenario in which you’re universally accepted into the new workplace with open arms so far, so let’s look into the opposite scenario. Sometimes professionals don’t want friends. Sometimes it’s only about the money and passion for their job is a distant second.
In these scenario, it’s still possible to build a genuine relationship, but it’s one based purely on gaining a competitive advantage or generating more revenue. Our ultimate goal is to generate more business, so it’s nothing to be upset about. In fact, certain personalities might find this sort of arrangement far more appealing and no one can fault you for that.
Every business relationship requires attention in one way or another, but as we adapt to changes in the financial services industry, it’s more important than ever to network. While it might be uncomfortable at first, being charismatic can help you achieve greater success than you have ever known. Also, as my old boss used to say, “The worst they can say is no.”