Q: Who do you consider a part of your network?
A: If it’s just your clients and vendors, you’re short selling yourself.
Q: How do you gain influence in your network?
A: By focusing on their needs and wants – not your goals.
Influence – in your industry, in your community, with your clients, or within your wider network – requires the same focus that lifts your compensation. Let’s break this discussion into two key parts: The focus and your network.
First, in order to earn influence, you must understand other people’s goals and objectives. This understanding isn’t just limited to your business. You have to dig deeper in your relationships to have understanding and empathy for whatever is happening in the lives of others. The last part is something I think is a lost art. Our lives are so complex and busy that so many people affect the way people see the world. Our color of lens changes rapidly.
You can really help a lot of people by taking time to understand where they are right now, what’s keeping them up at night, and what would truly be beneficial to them at that point in time. It’s likely to change frequently. All of this goes back to the “law of value,” which states that your worth is determined by how much you give over what you receive.
Second, just like compensation, you need to think of your network as more than the obvious. Think outside of your clients and colleagues – think of people who will become your “brand ambassadors” – people who know you, like you, and trust you.1 How do you build that trust? You guessed it … by bringing value to the relationship and helping others meet their goals.
Your network is endless. You never know the source of referral or an opportunity. So, treat everyone as a part of your network. Focus the conversation on them and learn how you might help them. In doing so, you quickly build rapport and trust.
By doing these two simple steps, you will grow your network abundantly over time, probably quicker than you think. Growing your network is the most efficient way to grow your practice. Stay focused on others and treat every contact as part of your network. Some will be better ambassadors than others. But, don’t risk the lost opportunity. Take time to get to know other people and how you can help first. Your value will prevail.
In every encounter, concentrate on understanding the other person. Look to make everyone an ambassador for your planning services by focusing on them, not you. This leads to quicker rapport and trust, which both are essential to referrals.
Mike McGlothlin is a tireless advocate for the retirement planning industry. As executive vice president of retirement at Ash Brokerage, he heads a team providing income planning solutions focused on longevity and efficiency. He’s also a thought leader who provides guidance and assistance for advisors and broker-dealers navigating marketplace and regulatory changes. You can find a collection of his blog posts in his book, “Above the Clouds … Winning Strategies from 30,000 Feet.”
1Bob Burg and John David Mann, “The Go-Giver: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea”: https://thegogiver.com/
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