Intentional networking: Be more strategic with 3 simple steps


Intentional networking: Be more strategic with 3 simple steps

Tap into fresh networking techniques that can help you connect with the right people to bring new perspectives, broader expertise, competitive intelligence, and more value to your firm and clients.

Most professionals view networking as a necessary skill for meeting new people. But there’s more to it. Learn how you (and your firm) can maximize the benefits of networking by taking a more strategic and focused approach. These techniques can take you further, faster.

1. Clarify your goals

Your connections with centers of influence can do more than drum up business leads. By casting a wider net through your networking, you can bring new dimensions of value and intelligence to strengthen your firm. Consider what issues your firm may be wrestling with and how you could gain new input or answers by reaching out to the right people in the right ways.

To recruit top talent:

  • Network with your peers to learn what other firms look for in applicants, where they find them, what incentives they offer them, and which skills your competitors are bringing on board. All of this helps you stay plugged in to emerging trends and opportunities beyond your walls.
  • Reach out to your existing network for warm leads on promising talent. Your connections can help you break into new social circles and get beyond a resumé to determine whether an applicant is the right fit.

To gain new expertise: 

  • Connect with experts whose skills complement yours so that you'll have a steady stream of valuable and fresh perspectives informing your work. This input can help hone your firm's operations, expand your approach to client service, or help you appeal to new investors.
  • Solve unfamiliar or complex problems by reaching out to consultants, vendors, or advisors at other firms who are likely to have experienced those same issues.

To broaden your network: 

  • Meet with nontraditional centers of influence—such as community leaders, real estate agents, or even life coaches—who can help you break into new networks and land new referrals.
  • Schedule calendar reminders to touch base with your existing network for introductions to the types of professionals you're trying to reach.

2. Match your outreach to the occasion

Every interaction with another professional is an opportunity to grow your network. You can get better results in less time by finding the best approach for connecting in each specific situation, whether it's at an industry conference or on your LinkedIn feed.

To get more out of event experiences:

  • Determine the topics you want to explore (e.g., new products or skills) and the people you most want to meet (e.g., new talent, thought partners, tech experts).
  • Invite other attendees to compare notes or discuss the sessions.
  • If you're offered a business card, snap a photo of it with your phone to build a digital library of contacts. That way you'll ensure you won't lose anyone's information.
  • Create your own content—for blogs, Twitter, or LinkedIn—based on insights from keynote presentations or breakout sessions. Sharing knowledge and adding your commentary can help elevate your expertise within your existing network and capture the attention of new connections who are interested in similar topics.

Are you prepared to maximize your time at events?

Ensure you're on track to make the most of your time with this checklist.

Two weeks out: Prepare 

  • Update your social media profile and revise it to reflect your firm's networking goals.
  • Ask colleagues to suggest specific questions and topics that you should pursue at the event.
  • Reach out to your existing contacts and set up in-person meetings.

One week out: Plan

  • Make a prioritized list of what you want to gain (e.g., thought partners, competitive intelligence, vendors, etc.).
  • Decide how and where you will accomplish each goal (e.g., attend a session on a related topic and then introduce yourself to two people there).

At the event: Connect

  • Meet people who can support your goals (e.g., network with peers at your regional dinner, discover new talent at the student luncheon).
  • Ask your Relationship Manager to introduce you to like-minded firms.
  • Seek input from other firms about which vendors they use and why.

 After the event: Reinforce

  • Set calendar reminders to follow up with your new contacts. Reaching out to them through LinkedIn is another way to strengthen your approach.
  • Share takeaways with your team and act upon what you've learned.

To build a community of online advocates:

  • Create goals for the frequency and types of interactions you want to have online (e.g., reposting one thought-leadership article on LinkedIn per week).
  • Attend online events such as webinars, ask questions, and connect with facilitators and attendees after the event.
  • Seek out like-minded professionals with whom you can exchange ideas online, and follow them on social media.
  • Share useful tips, links, and information on social media to reinforce your value for clients and your expertise for those in the field.

3. Refine your game plan

Your window of time to connect with people can be brief. Focus your message in order to steer each encounter directly toward your goals.

To make your best impression:

  • Write a list of your expertise—and think beyond financial advising—so that you can quickly establish your value in any situation.
  • Plan and practice your introduction to ensure that it's solid, seamless, and connected to your goals.
  • Look for opportunities to network within your comfort zone so that you're seen as confident and genuine, which can help you resonate more easily with people.

To find common ground:

  • Research the people you plan to meet, and look for shared interests. Connecting authentically builds deeper connections that can lead to opportunities time and time again.
  • Look for ways to further the interests of your new connections. They'll be grateful that you did—and more likely to return the favor.

A strategic approach to networking enables you to build more diverse—and higher-quality—relationships that enhance your career, firm, and client experiences. To expand the benefits even further, encourage your whole firm to adopt these practices. Building strong networking acumen throughout your firm will help you grow steadily and uncover new ways to bring greater value to those you serve.

We hope these ideas inspire you to use your networking skills to accomplish even more of your goals.

If you're thinking about becoming an independent advisor, consider a custodian that invests in your success. Contact us to learn more about the benefits of a custodial relationship with Schwab.