I’m a financial adviser. I get most of my clients through referrals. I am always looking for clients. When I reach out to a prospect (a current client’s friend), I send an e-mail message: “Dear Bryan, I’m friends with Hector, who suggested I meet you. I’m a financial adviser, but I imagine you’re already working with someone. I’d love to meet you. Have time for coffee?”
My success rate with this approach is distressingly low. What am I doing wrong?
I’m sure it is not your intention, but your e-mail overture doesn’t sound like a networking invitation. You’re saying, “I’m trolling for business, and your name came up. It’s worth an hour of my time to cultivate a relationship with you in case you become disenchanted with your financial adviser. You should meet me, because of our Hector connection. Anyway, I gotta go.”
You’re making your financial-adviser role the point of the message; it’s the only thing you’re telling Bryan about yourself. You say nothing whatsoever about your interest in meeting him, apart from your financial adviser status. What’s poor Bryan to think, apart from, “Oh God, not another one of THESE…”
Bryan can tell in two seconds that you couldn’t care less about him. He’s just another name on your list. Why should Bryan invest an hour with you? You haven’t shown him that you give a fig about him — you know that he has a bank account, and you’re good to go.
The most successful financial advisers get good returns for their clients, and they do something else really well, too. They cultivate relationships for the sake of those relationships, not their books of business. They take the other person’s point of view. They imagine what it would be like to get a message that begins, “You and I know Hector in common, and I’m a financial adviser.” They see that for any normally time-pressed Bryan, the one-hour “I just want to meet you” coffee sounds as appealing as a root canal sans novocaine.
You had the million-plus words in the English language to use in your message, and you chose, “I’m a financial adviser, and I’d like to meet you.” You didn’t say anything about Bryan, or give any hint that he’s is more than a bank account to you. Why should Bryan donate an hour of his time to someone so me-focused?
Networking is easier and more fun when you network to meet interesting people, and let the business development take care of itself. As long as you look at introductions as means to your client-list ends, you’re likely to keep getting the lukewarm response you’ve gotten so far.
I would never, ever accept an invitation to a sales meeting disguised as a networking coffee, and I don’t know many people who would. The good news is that when you take the time to meet people for their own sake, the way I’m recommending, you’ll start to build the very mojo that will get you out of the hamster-wheel lead-gen hell that’s causing you stress right now.