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How to network to attract more clients

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Financial advisors can prosper in their practice if they network with the right people or join the right groups to attract more clients, provided that they actually interact and then do the necessary follow-up work.

“I feel that you get out of it what you put into it,” says Claudia E. Mott, a planner at Epona Financial Solutions LLC in Basking Ridge, N.J.

“To be successful, you have to follow up with those who might be a good referral source,” she says. “Just meeting at breakfast every week isn’t going to help another professional get to the place where they know, like and trust you enough to refer you to someone.”

Advisors can also become involved in local nonprofit or social services groups that share common goals, interests or passions, and often new clients or referrals can come as a byproduct of these efforts, says Mott, who recently became treasurer of a newly formed foundation for her local library.

However, many advisors don’t give a networking group enough time for the relationships to develop and walk away after a few meetings “when no one is clamoring to meet or talk with them,” she says.

Mott knows younger advisors who feel that their Internet presence is all that matters and wouldn’t consider face-to-face networking, but then again, many of their clients typically look online first to find resources.

Of course, networking to find new clients doesn’t have to happen through formal groups.

Just ask Gary B. Sidder, president and chief executive of Life Transition Planners Inc. in Littleton, Colo., who says that the one involvement that has benefited his firm the most is teaching for 15 years in the CFP training program at Metropolitan State University of Denver.

Most of the students are already in financial services, but some are career changers outside the industry, and after the program, about 30% decide not to sit for the CFP exam to earn the designation.

“Several of the career changers had been burned in the market and decided they should learn more so they could do it themselves, but after taking my class, they decided to hire my firm instead,” Sidder says.

He has also received referrals from students and former students to work with clients who couldn’t be served elsewhere, either because of high investment minimums or a mismatched investment style.

“I just love teaching and did it to help others. New clients from teaching were a pleasant surprise,” Sidder says.

Katie Kuehner-Hebert is a freelance writer in Running Springs, Calif. She has contributed to American Banker, Risk & Insurance and Human Resource Executive.

This story is part of a 30-day series on how to prosper as an advisor.

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