Grow Your Business by Focusing on Others

Business Networking International (or BNI), a networking organization with more than 3700 chapters in the United States alone, has a motto: “Givers Gain.” The basic principle is that, when you approach networking from the perspective of what it can do for you, you’re unlikely to get much out of it. If, however, you focus instead on how you can help those you’re networking with, it’s likely your efforts will be reciprocated.

While it can be useful to approach business networking in general like this, the financial sector in particular could benefit quite a bit from this perspective. A pair of recent guest articles on Advisor Perspectives provide a framework for how to put this idea into practice.

Relate to Prospects with Curiosity

The first, by Dan Solin, argues that self-interest often holds financial advisors back from their goals. According to Solin, “The impulse to advance one’s interests will be self-destructive for advisors when they fail to listen carefully and demonstrate curiosity.” Solin goes on to explain that the most effective way to turn a prospect into a conversion is to ask questions, listen carefully, and let the prospect guide the conversation. Not only does it give your conversation partner a rush of “happiness hormones,” it can provide you with valuable information you can use to provide the best service possible to them. By focusing on your prospect’s needs, you meet your own.

Business Marketing through Authenticity

But how do you get them in the door in the first place? In the second article, Knut A. Rostad talks about the state of investor trust in the financial services industry:

Previously, I wrote how investor trust in 2021 is stuck at the low levels of 2009. It is in the basement of occupational trust levels, just above car salespeople, according to Gallup. Meanwhile, the financial industry’s deafening silence remains.

Whether you believe it’s justified or not, the financial sector has a reputation for unethical conduct, and that’s a reputation every advisor must overcome. Establishing trust with potential clients is difficult, and starting from a position of active mistrust creates a seemingly insurmountable obstacle for many advisors.

That’s where authenticity comes in. Rostad argues, “The frame for viewing trust is changing from institutional to distributive trust.” People don’t trust big financial institutions, but that doesn’t mean they won’t trust an individual advisor. When you allow yourself to be seen as a human being – sharing pictures of your dog or your family, talking about movies you like, working with the community – you make yourself easier to relate to, and more approachable. By learning to speak in an authentic voice, you can start to overcome investor mistrust.

Informers versus Meformers

Both articles touch on this idea, but Solin puts in succinctly:

“Meformers” focus content on themselves. They believe their social media contacts are concerned about different aspects of their work, their achievements, and their personal lives.

“Informers” use social media differently. They are motivated to share information of interest to their followers. They often generate and share original content. They may comment on posts unrelated to their business.

This principle can be applied to both the macro level of marketing (think: social media, your website, email campaigns, etc.) and to the micro level (speaking to prospects one-on-one). The trick is to focus primarily on your audience: their needs, goals, interests, and so forth. Create and share content they’ll find valuable. Approach interactions from the perspective of how you can help them. And when you do talk about yourself, be as truthful and authentic as possible.