I have said it repeatedly; the one thing that really ticks me off is how poorly people network. The folks who are poor at networking don’t understand that any relationship requires time to build up trust. I’ll see it when a financial advisor I met for the very first time is already asking me about my clients and whether I can refer them business. I don’t know if this advisor is the second coming of Bernie Madoff or not, so I’m not likely to just start referring clients to someone I just met.
I didn’t learn networking at school or where I worked because those were skills that no one seems to think is worthwhile to teach. I learned the hard way, by attending networking events. In my mind, networking is all about building relationships. I’m not trying to directly sell my services to potential clients; I look at networking as attempting to develop relationships with people who could refer me business. I don’t have to sell directly to people I meet because if they need ERISA legal services, they know where to find me.
My best friends in this business didn’t start that way from day one. One of my biggest supporters started being a help to my business by just giving me a call one day saying how much he loved my writing. Over time, we worked together and he referred me business and helping me develop other relationships that grew my business. When I first talked to him, I wasn’t trying to get him as a client and we both needed time to develop a sense of trust so we could work together.
Sure, there are people who network who are very pushy in getting business. Some times they get a client or two, but most of the time they fall flat. I’ve met too many insurance agents who tried to me under the guise of networking, but centered more about my insurance needs.
Being successful in the retirement plan business is all about building relationships and it’s hard to build relationships when all you’re trying to do is make a sale. There are many relationships out there that is worthy to build, that will net you a lot more than just that quick sale.