Cold calling? Forget about it. Targeting rich niches? Forget about it. Bombarding the neighborhood with postcards? Ditto.
I've found that the best way to build your practice is to focus on what you're passionate about. Life is too short to spend time with people you don't enjoy or connect with. Instead, work with people who share the same passions and hobbies as you do.
Here's how it works. I have four passions outside of my family and my faith, and they are golf, Nebraska football, fine red wine and my newest passion, flying. Most of my new business comes from people I meet when I'm engaged in one of these four activities.
For example, when I play golf, I invite an A+ client and ask him or her to invite two of their friends or colleagues to round out the foursome. And you know what? Nine times out of ten those guests will be of the same socioeconomic status as my A+ client. By the time we play golf for four hours and have a drink on the 19th hole, we're all pretty good friends and that effortlessly leads to, "Well, tell me a little more about what you do, Ron."
Ten years ago, I was prospecting a high-net-worth individual, and he could never find time to meet with me for lunch or a quick 15-minute meeting. Fortunately, one of my A+ clients knew him and arranged for us to play together in a golf tournament. After spending almost the whole day with him (remember, this is the same person who did not have time for a 15-minute meeting), I casually asked him, "Who handles your money?" He said it was spread among several people, but he wouldn't mind getting together with me for lunch and discussing how we could help him.
We met for lunch, and he's been a client for ten years.
By connecting with him through a common passion, I was able to spend nearly a whole day with him. When I approached him from a purely business angle, he couldn't find 15 minutes for me. People will always make time for their passion.
I've also hosted a chipping and putting clinic at my club. For a small fee, I hired the club pro to give my group a few pointers; then we set up a chipping and putting contest. We all had a great time and picked up a few ideas, and we were able to converse in a relaxed setting that was conducive to relationship building.
It's the same thing with Nebraska football. I happen to own a skybox at the stadium, and on football Saturdays I'm there with my A+ clients and my A+ prospects. It's such a positive, electric environment that developing a relationship happens naturally. Once the relationship is developed, taking the next step to working together is much easier.
To pursue my passion for drinking and collecting fine red wine, I joined the International Wine and Food Society. Recently, I invited several local chapter members to a dinner and wine-tasting event at a local restaurant. My only link to these people was our common interest in wine. I began the evening with a few introductory comments about my firm and the markets; then I turned it over to a local wine expert. The wine expert gracefully led my guests through a series of wines that accompanied dinner.
Throughout the evening, I said hello to each guest (there were 12) and engaged in the usual chitchat. There was one guest in particular who shared several passions in common with me. He loved Nebraska football, so I invited him to attend a game and sit in my skybox. He wanted to improve his golf game, so I set him up with my instructor. And of course, he loved wine.
Not surprisingly, this person set up an appointment, and we discussed his situation. Turns out his money was scattered among several advisors. I described how we could consolidate his assets and provide comprehensive planning services. He said we were exactly what he was looking for. Two weeks later, he transferred over an $8.5 million account. This is a perfect example of how Passion Prospecting works.
Maybe your hobbies aren't the same as mine, but all of us have hobbies that we enjoy outside the office. Whatever they are, think creatively about how you can set up events that center around your passion. Then invite your clients who share that passion, ask them to bring a friend or colleague, bond with them, and let your natural instincts take over when it comes to figuring out the right time to bring up business.
If the prospect takes the initiative and asks you what you do for a living, be prepared. Have a very short but intriguing answer that begs for a follow up. For example, you might say, "I'm in the proactive wealth management business." Unless they're brain dead, they'll say, "What does that mean?" Now you can start a dialogue that should end with an agreement to meet in your office.
There's one requirement you have to meet in order for Passion Prospecting to work-you have to be above average in your passion. For example, if it's golf, you should shoot in the 80s or better. If it's tennis, you shouldn't be making too many unforced errors. If it's wine, you ought to know that "bouquet" is not a bunch of flowers. If you're passionate about something but not yet above average in your skill or knowledge, brush up before you start participating in it with prospects and clients.
To start your own Passion Prospecting, simply follow these three steps.
1. Figure out what you're passionate about.
2. Develop events around your passion.
3. Subtly tie your business into each event, with the goal being to get an appointment.
Passion Prospecting has allowed me to significantly increase my income while at the same time, enhance my quality of life. It can do the same for you.
Ron Carson, CFP, is president of Peak Productions. To learn more about his services, visit www.peakproductions.com.