How Drinking Better Wine Can Lead to More Business

“If you have to pretend to be a golfer to get a client, you’re in trouble.  If you love food and wine, that is an absolute natural bridge for business and personal interaction.” Bruce Jeffer of the LA law firm Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell based this observation in “Case Law” a recent Wine Spectator article. (1)  The firm runs wine appreciation seminars for its attorneys.  They’ve discovered an interest in wine can lead to business. As a financial advisor you want to join HNW circles, make friends and transition those relationships to business when appropriate.  It can work for career growth too.  Years ago, when I entered management at my (former) large firm, someone remarked:  “In management, you choose either the golf track or the wine track.”  Here’s why choosing the wine track can be good for business: 1. Lower barriers to entry. To join an exotic car club, you need an exotic car.  Country clubs have initiation fees and monthly minimums.  To become a wine fan, you buy some books, bottles, glasses and a corkscrew. 2. Crossover area. Wealthy folk take expensive vacations.  The might live in gated communities.  They have screeners at work.  If they are also wine fans, they get together with other wine fans. 3. Cross generational. Enjoying wine isn’t limited to the over 60 set.  Gen X and Gen Y like it too.  According to Business Insider, in 2015 Millennials drank 42% of all wine consumed in the US. (2) Admiring a beautiful painting, classic car or enjoying a great bottle of wine brings people of all ages together. 4. Enter your local wine merchant. They organize tastings.  They know about classes.  They can tell you about local wine clubs.  They know their customers on a first name basis.  They are your gateway.  Give yourself an allowance.  Show up every Saturday.  You are now a regular. 5. Wine auctions. They take place in places Like LA and NYC.  Get the catalog.  Register to bid.  It’s a reason to attend, rubbing shoulders with other collectors. 6. Passion is your gateway. You’ve met other wine fans.  OK, so their collections are much better than yours.  Wine fans are usually eager to share their passion with fellow enthusiasts or newcomers with a sincere desire to learn. 7. There are obvious business tie ins. Red Bordeaux is a blend primarily made of five grape types.  If one has a bad growing season, you lean on the others.  Sounds like a large cap growth fund.  Red Burgundy is Pinot Noir.  In a bad vintage, there’s no place to hide.  Sounds like a fund focusing on a single industry. 8. It’s a reason to go out. New wine bars are opening all the time.  “Have you been there yet?  No?  We’ve got to try it.” 9. Thank goodness for BYOBs! You are a wine fan.  So is your friend.  Why not each bring a bottle and share them over dinner at a local place with a Bring Your Own Bottle policy?  You are enjoying great wine and costs are under control. What could be better? 10. The fall charity gala circuit is approaching. You know this is a great way to rub shoulders with people you want to get to know better.  Live and silent auctions often feature hosted wine dinners, wine themed vacations and special bottles as auction items.  You have the opportunity to bid, or even better, gain visibility as the donor of an auction lot. 11. The holiday party circuit. You see your new wine friends at the wine shop, wine tastings and charity galas.  You socialize in between.  It’s highly likely you have now been added to the guest list for their holiday party.  Remember to bring a nice bottle. 12. Are we having fun yet? You have found a way to prospect, taking the long view. You are in frequent contact with people who could be great clients.  You are having a great time doing it. There are many ways to approach penetrating the HNW market.  Here’s one way with low barriers to entry, cross generational appeal and the potential to make great friendships along the way.