Social prospecting through community involvement sounds great in theory, but it has a practical flaw. Cultivating social relationships that might lead to business relationships takes a long time if you only see these people at events and meetings. How can you speed up the cultivation process?

The key to developing social relationships (besides being in the right places) is identifying at least one shared interest. Once that is done and you have spent time “working the room” making additional connections, you circle back to that person. Let them know you enjoyed meeting them. You have several shared interests. You list a couple. This serves two purposes: First, it demonstrates you were listening. Second, it establishes the rationale for staying in touch. Personally, I like the expression: “I would like to keep in touch. How can we do that?” Stop talking. The ball is in their court.

If they don’t want to keep in touch, they will find some excuse like “I don’t have a business card with me” or “We can catch up at the next meeting.” They aren’t going to make an effort. Let us assume they are agreeable. They produce a business card. The suggest connecting on social media. If they offer a card, I like to take one of mine, write “Bryce and Jane” along with our home number on the back. I also add the shared interest like “wine fans.” I hand it over handwritten side first.

Let us assume you have done all that! What happens next? A lot of this is covered in my book Captivating the Wealthy Investor.

1. You make the first move. It’s like dating. You are not going to say: “If this wealthy couple really wants to know me, they need to make the first move.” You pick up the phone, e-mail or text to reconnect.

2. Call about the next event. This is good for museum shows, auctions and membership meetings without a set schedule. Let them know you met at the last event and are hoping to see them at the next event.

3. The invitation based on personal interests. You talked about wine. A new wine bar opened in town. You and your spouse are going. Would they like to come along? Maybe you are going wine shopping. You talked about why certain stores are great. Are they free on Saturday morning?

4. Inviting them to your home. You might think you should steer away from this option if there is a wealth gap. If they are self-made, they probably lived in similar accommodations before they made it big. They will be impressed that you are living within your means. Their own children might not be! In warmer weather, you can go the BBQ route. Everything takes place in your backyard.

5. Suggest dinner. This can be “home” or “away.” After a while you will develop a sixth sense if they might feel uncomfortable or think you are moving too fast. A good solution is to invite an additional couple, someone known to both parties. They can “check you out” with the other couple before accepting. If they are worried your shared interests will not carry an evening’s conversation, knowing this other couple will be there gets them thinking: “It won’t be a total washout. At least we can talk with (them).”

The People You Meet on Vacation
If you are like me, you are running into really great, interesting people on holiday. You exchange contact information. Years ago, it was addresses for Christmas cards. Today, it is e-mail or a promise to connect on social media.

Jane and I meet at least one great couple on every cruise. The most recent couple counted TV acting as one of their experiences. We write to each couple via e-mail on a monthly basis. Some reply, others do not. (Do not mistake no reply for no interest.) They are often traveling at that moment or mean to write and forget. When people do respond, we try to write back immediately. Although I cut and paste with a little customization to get the job done, some responses are multi paragraph letters! We let them know they are welcome to stay with us if they travel this way and they often return the favor.

It is not difficult to nurture social relationships. You stay on the radar. It can lead to direct business. It can lead to referrals. It can stay at the friendship level. In any case, your life should be richer for it.

Bryce Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. He provides HNW client acquisition training for the financial services industry. His book Captivating the Wealthy Investor is available on Amazon.