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Build advocacy within your relationships

Developing new relationships is the lifeblood of an advisory business. Yet the inherently challenging process of building an advisory practice could become more daunting in the years ahead.

That’s why I believe that refining your approach away from traditional prospecting is essential to keeping your business growing.

It’s a fact: People don’t wake up in the morning waiting for an advisor to call them.

You have to wait for events to occur in people’s lives, and be there when they do. Building advocacy within your relationships can help position you to get the call when a need arises.

Shifting your time, over time

There’s only so much time in your day to invest in growing your business and servicing existing clients. Newer advisors may need to tilt their time toward growth by using time-honored methods like cold-calling or asking for referrals.

But truly building advocacy for your practice requires a different approach. It means, eventually, focusing less on the end result (of gathering clients) and more on the journey (of adding value within existing relationships).

Don't assume that your network of contacts necessarily knows precisely what you do...or the specific kinds of problems that you can help solve.

Building your army of advocates

To begin the advocacy-building process, focus on the main groups of people in your life:

  • family and friends
  • clients and prospects
  • fellow professionals (CPAs, attorneys, and others).

The key is to create a level of intimacy within these valued relationships, and allow time to uncover life events that create needs that you can fill.

Don’t assume, however, that your network of contacts necessarily knows precisely what you do, the specific kind of problems you can help solve, and how well you can solve them. It is important to provide the people around you with that awareness. You could provide them with specific examples of how you have helped your clients navigate some of their specific financial challenges, whether it relates to a divorce, death of a loved one, or the birth of a child.

As “need” situations arise within your sphere of relationships, your advocates will be there to tell friends and acquaintances what you can do for them. This is the essence of building advocacy for your practice.

Instead of using LinkedIn as a platform to push information outward, try to focus on using it to get to know people.

Going digital

The professional networking site LinkedIn is a great way to make new connections and to put a philosophy of advocacy into practice. Instead of using LinkedIn as a platform to push information outward — which is an easy habit to fall into with social media — try to focus on using it to get to know people with whom you can relate, and to learn how you can help them.

Relationship building of the kind that creates advocates for your advisory business isn’t an overnight process. If most people have only about 25 close relationships, those roughly two dozen people won’t have the frequency of financial events in their lives to build a book of business on.

It would be better still if they become advocates for your business.


Ready to get started?

Here are six steps to get the ball rolling and begin building advocacy for your practice.

  • 1List your relationships.
    Think of the people you enjoy being around, the people you could help, the people you’d want as potential prospects. Divide them into three groups: friends and family; clients and prospects; and other professionals like CPAs and attorneys.
  • 2Get together.
    Make time to meet with people — over coffee is a great idea. Hear what matters to them, and learn what’s going on in their lives.
  • 3Tell your story.
    Let them know what you’re doing, the types of people you work with, and how you can help them.
  • 4Ask for advice.
    Ask people for advice in areas they'd be comfortable talking about. What motivated them to pick their current financial advisors? How do they like to be prospected? How would they recommend you meet more people like them?
  • 5Get connected online.
    Join LinkedIn and participate. Join groups, follow companies, convey a personal brand, and connect to your clients and their children. At the end of meetings, ask people to connect with you on LinkedIn — and learn more about what interests them.
  • 6Be an advocate.
    You may be pleasantly surprised to learn that the best way to create an advocate is to be one yourself.

FINRA regulates the use of social media. Advisors should consult their compliance departments about restrictions regarding the use of social media before accessing any social media networks for a business purpose.

This content is for informational purposes only and is not an endorsement of any content on LinkedIn, or any app, service, or publicly traded company. It is also not a recommendation to buy or sell a particular security.

All third-party marks cited are the property of their respective owners.

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The Evolving Advisor