By: Meredith Elliott Powell
Blog Series: Post 1 of 2
Last week I worked with my last client of 2014, putting the finishing touches on their strategic plan and reviewing the training plan for 2015. The CEO and I were discussing how to best position the company and the team for growth in 2015, and double checking to ensure we had all of the bases covered. When we got to the topic of networking, John (the CEO of this large financial firm) and I were reviewing their networking strategy the list of local boards, events, and industry associations his team would be active in this year.
With that list complete, I suggested we discuss the firm’s social networking strategy as well, and similarly, make a list of profiles, active groups, and overall connections. John immediately stopped what he was doing and looked at me like I had lost my mind or grown a second head. He then asked me why in the world he should care about his firm’s social networking strategy and what, if anything, it had to do with their traditional networking efforts. He added that he did not want his team “fooling around” on the computer when there was work to be done.
Well, I had to laugh—if I had a dollar for every time I have heard that response over the last few years, from either a leader or someone who only believes in traditional networking strategies, I would be writing this article from a tropical location on my expensive yacht, sipping a tall, cool cocktail.
Today’s financial professionals fall into one of three camps: 1) either you are a traditional networker (joining boards, attending local events, and meeting in person with connections to help you expand your business; 2) you are the self-proclaimed guru of online networking—the financial professional who has mastered LinkedIn and perfected Twitter to build your network and expand your reach; or 3) you are one of the few and final holdouts who don’t network period—in person or online—you simply rely on word-of-mouth or a few trusted clients to send you business to build your practice. Whichever category you fall into, it is time for a change.
The new economy and the changes in the world of networking demand we all wake up, accept the inevitable, and make networking (traditional and social) a key strategic initiative for 2015. A solid and active networking strategy will not only ensure your firm stays well-connected to your clients and potential clients, it will also provide an opportunity for you to remain highly visible in a crowded market and build your brand while expanding your reach.
Today’s clients have changed—they are well-informed, highly skeptical, and clearly in control of whom they choose to do business with. Decisions are no longer made based on first impressions alone—clients and prospects do their research. Even people you sit alongside of on a local board are likely to go back to their offices and check out your LinkedIn profile or read your latest blog post. In addition, don’t think an active Facebook page, a solid LinkedIn profile, or a record number of Twitter followers is going to be enough. Clients still want to talk with you, meet you, and know the person they are hiring is as good “in person” as they appear online.
If you want to succeed in today’s economy, then you need to integrate your traditional and social networking strategies—it takes both approaches to meeting, connecting, and building relationships with clients. You and your firm need to make as big an impression online as you do in person, and your clients and prospects need to be networking with you using both platforms and mediums. Why? Find out in the next installment of this series, entitled: Three Reasons to Integrate Your Social & Traditional Networking Strategies.
She is a riveting speaker, workshop leader, and the author of several books, including her latest, Winning in the Trust & Value Economy: a professionals guide to business and sales success. For more information about how to grow your firm, and develop your team, connect with Meridith on her website and blog, www.meridithelliottpowell.com.