1. Personal networking: This was extremely important when I was first starting my firm, and it remains so. I continually look for opportunities to develop contacts and network. This includes specific networking events, local chamber of commerce activities, interacting with the philanthropic organizations I belong to, and other areas. The idea is not to immediately ask for referrals but to develop relationships that could work well over the long term.
I ask new contacts what they are looking for in terms of a reference for their business or profession, and I try to assist in any way I can. I reach out to attorneys and CPAs in a similar fashion. As I do my best to connect people, they often turn to me and say, “Well, what about you? What do you do, and what kind of referrals are you looking for?” I currently have many relationships with people in different fields and particularly strong relationships with a select group of CPAs and estate attorneys.
2. Targeting specific company employees: I have examined my book of business and identified large companies where several clients work. I have tried to become very knowledgeable about their benefits program, particularly their 401(k)s and insurance programs. After working with a client in a company like this, I am not shy about asking if they could refer a co-worker.
The 401(k) opportunity is especially attractive for both the employee and our firm. Most of these individuals are basically in passive investment funds and not terribly knowledgeable about their other options. The first step is education, and then seeing if, as part of their overall financial plan, it makes sense to recommend more risk-managed strategies. When employees in this type of company approach retirement and are looking at rollovers or retirement-income planning, I am already positioned as a trusted resource.
3. Creating a strong presence on the Internet: I believe you have to create a well-constructed website that has clear messaging about your practice. I also think it is important to have an up-to-date LinkedIn profile and to post appropriate content to both your website and LinkedIn page regularly. Most referred prospects will go to both places to do some preliminary checking on your background and your practice. For the younger generation especially, it is critical that our firm be as savvy about new technologies as possible.
Disclosure: Securities offered through J.W. Cole Financial, Inc. (JWC). Member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services offered through J.W. Cole Advisors, Inc. (JWCA). Privada Wealth Management and JWC/JWCA are unaffiliated entities.
Photography by Cy Cyr