Does Community Involvement Have a Business Payoff for Advisors?

You’ve got to be in the right place at the right time.  Woody Allen observed: “80% of success is showing up.”  Community involvement leads to business.  It often drops into your lap.  This leads to another truism:  “when opportunity knocks, will you open the door?”  Often it’s not a direct sales pitch, but the development of a relationship that lands business in your lap.

1. Desperate vs. successful.  In dating, you might have encountered the person who tries too hard.  A voice in your head says: “There’s something wrong here.  I better beware.”  You are a financial advisor.  People ask what you do at parties.  Some people immediately start selling.  They can be perceived as desperate.  What’s the business opposite of desperate?  Successful.  People who tell what they do but don’t overtly push business can come across as successful.

2. We should get to know each other.  One day I was serving as a volunteer tending bar at a charity event.  A fellow walked up and said: “We are involved in three of the same things.  We attend Church together.  I see you at museum events.  You are working at the charity I support.  We should get to know each other.”  How was I to know he was one of the richest guys in town?

3. He does so much.  Wealthy people are often involved with charities.  They can write checks, but don’t have hours to put in as volunteers.  A local business owner told me he recently changed firms for his retirement plan, sending it to a fellow board member.  “He’s a young guy.  We support the same charity.  He volunteers so much of his time.  I wanted to do something for him.”

4. Involvement in your religious organization.  I’ve been a lector (reader) in Church forever.  It’s a great way to give back.  We would stand at the back of Church after Mass, thanking people for coming and shaking hands.  People started saying hello in the supermarket.  I didn’t know them, but they knew me!  They know what you do too.  Here’s the amazing thing:  “He must be a good advisor because he does the readings in Church!”

5. Get close to the money.  A New York advisor brought this up regarding community involvement.  Handle the organization’s money.  It gives you visibility at meetings when reporting.  Once again, people know what you do.  They identify your profession with the organization.  “He must be good.  He must be honest because the organization trusts him with their money.”

6. I was wondering when you would ask me.  People know what you do.  They also know who some of your clients are by name.  You maintained strict client confidentiality.  Your clients talked about you.  A California advisor asked a fellow group member for business.  The guy said yes, he would love to be a client.  “I was wondering if you would ask.”  Perplexed, the advisor asked: “Why didn’t you approach me?”  The guy said:  “I know the big people at the club work with you.  I only have a few hundred thousand.  I assumed I was too small.”

Were you being pushy? No.  Were you doing something noble, giving of yourself within the community?  Yes.  Could any of these outcomes have been predicted?  Not really.  It’s business that one day falls into your lap.