Remember the last time you met a would-be professional connection for lunch and it didn’t go quite as planned? Maybe they were late (ugh), maybe you were late (gasp), or maybe you just didn’t quite hit it off. Taking time out of your day a couple of times a month to build relationships with complementary professionals, also referred to as Centers of Influence (COIs), is a necessary part of any growing law practice. If it’s not done right though, you could end up with wasted time, money, and a connection that’s not going to pay off.
If your networking meetings haven’t been yielding the results you want, not to worry, like most things, the Academy has a system for this! We’re going to explore 7 steps you can take before you head into a meeting, to help pave the foundation for not only having a successful meeting but building a relationship to last.
It starts with Why…
We’ve been helping Members craft their “Why” for years now. If you’re in the Academy, you know why we focus on Why. If you’re not in the Academy or need a quick refresher, it’s because your Why will attract and repel people to want to work with you. It’s a beacon that helps you tap into emotionally driven decision-making that helps people just “feel right” about working with you.
Tapping into the emotional decision-making part of someone’s brain is not only the key to connecting successfully with your clients, but also to securing and building new professional relationships. So other than having a well-crafted why, there are some other steps you can take to make connections faster and it’s all about how well you can identify What’s in it for them” (W.I.I.F.T.) and how you communicate that understanding back to them.
So how do you identify W.I.I.F.T.? Simple, put yourself in their shoes. What do they stand to gain by working with you? Maybe it’s how estate planning could complement their service. Perhaps you could help them uncover new information about their client like assets they haven’t given to their advisor to invest. It’s also possible through the sheer association with you, that they too become a trusted advisor in the eyes of their client. Most importantly, would they be in a position to receive referrals from you if your client needed their services.
This is one of those must-hit points. If you mess everything else up, but can hit on this part well, your odds of success will go up substantially.
Here are 7 Steps to do before your networking meetings to set yourself up for success:
- Step 1) Do your homework. You should try to learn a little bit about them. Usually, you can find a lot of information just by visiting their website or social media pages like: 1) How long have they been in business, 2) What they are promoting on their website right now (their lead magnet/call to action), 3) Who their ideal client is, 4) How big their team is, etc.
- Step 2) Identify W.I.I.F.T. We already talked about this above and we have a module covering W.I.I.F.T items for the most common COIs our Members connect with.
- Step 3) Think about the picture you’ll paint for them, that helps them understand that you “get” what they need. There’s nothing like a compelling client story to help illustrate the need to work together.
- Step 4) Be ready to crisply share how you are uniquely qualified to help with their issue(s) and how that could work.
- Step 5) Create an agenda. This will help keep you both on track and make sure you cover the items you want and most importantly, you are both clear at the end of the meeting about next steps.
- Step 6) Prep your packet. Just like a client meeting, you should have a networking folder to give out, that has various collateral pieces that not only provide them with helpful information about estate planning but showcase your expertise. If you’re an author, your book is a must-include here.
- Step 7) Confirm the date/time. No one wants to be stood up or the victim of “I’m running behind” when you’ve cleared your calendar. Make sure you confirm the date/time/location still works before you go, so you don’t find yourself either rushing through the meeting or eating alone.
If you feel like you’re doing all of this and still struggling to make long-lasting connections talk with your Practice Building Coach. We’ll help you troubleshoot common missteps and even role-play with you. Happy networking!
Director of Member Services
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (858) 453-2128
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