Consider how you feel when having something “sold” to you versus the excitement of discovering something new, something truly valuable. The difference is dramatic, and as a financial advisor you want new clients that feel excited about discovering you. Leveraging social media is by far the most effective way to accomplish this. Not convinced? Let me illustrate the old way of doing things with a short story.

The year was 1992 and I was a stockbroker for a well-known Wall Street firm. In the evenings, I often spent my time clandestinely driving through local neighborhoods in search of wide streets, large homes surrounded by manicured lawns and European sedans parked in the driveways. When I found them, I would plug a spotlight into my cigarette lighter and carefully illuminate each street sign just long enough to write down the name and quietly slip away.

It seems creepy now, but back then it just seemed ambitious. The next day in the office I would haul the three-foot tall “reverse directory” off the shelf in preparation for hours of house-to-house cold calling. Sometimes I imagined one of my prospects hearing his neighbor’s phone ring just 15 seconds after hanging up on me.

“Hi, I’m Steve Dunlap, and I’ve got a great investment opportunity I’d like to tell you about….”

When I wasn’t interrupting dinner, I was trolling my alumni directory, hunting rich people. My trick was to tell the secretary I was a “fellow alumnus” of William & Mary. It wasn’t a lie, but I knew what the admin heard was “college buddy.” Bingo – she’d put me right through.

Awful. And these methods certainly didn’t make anyone feel good, which made the fundamental tasks of business development that much harder: finding people (not “prospects”) who might be interested, demonstrating credibility, establishing trust, and building a relationship.

Enter the world of social media. Rather than scattershot calling every house on the street, modern social media tools enable financial advisors to laser-target people with specific shared interests or characteristics. Knowing something about each person enables an offer of information or something likely to be valuable. Offering something valuable in advance, before ever asking for business provides a more natural opportunity to establish trust and plant the seed for a relationship.

Simultaneously, your social media presence helps establish your credibility and bona fides. All of this done correctly will help you earn the right to ask for their business and drastically increase your odds of an affirmative answer.

Updated, modern and less creepy versions of my 1992 methods today enable a financial advisor to, for example, search for C-suite executives that work in the aerospace industry and live within 25 miles. Once you’ve found them, you can see what their interests are, topics they’ve written about, news articles where they’ve been mentioned or quoted, local organizations to which they belong, and perhaps even some information about their family and personal life. Using this information to find a common interest, contact, or membership with which to approach them is far more effective than a cold call in the middle of dinner. It’s also more human and civilized.

So, as you’re considering the best way to build your business, think this over. Do you want your clients to feel like you “targeted” them and tricked them into doing business? Or would you rather they feel that you thoughtfully sought out like minded people, presented them with something of value while transparently providing information about yourself, while giving them the space and time to conclude that a relationship with you might just be valuable to them?

The answer is obvious, and modern “social selling” methods and tools provide the most effective means to realize this vision.

About Steve Dunlap

Steve is the president and COO of FolioDynamix, a fast-growing, innovative financial technology firm providing ground-breaking technologies, investment advice, and thought leadership to investment and wealth management firms. He is known for helping these firms successfully navigate the digital disruption of the financial services industry, and has has spent his entire career in FinTech and financial services. As various times, he has served as CEO of large financial services firms, run small, private-equity-funded start-ups, and is now running a cutting edge provider of disruptive financial technology.

His career has focused on building solutions that combine technology and investment capabilities and are used by financial advisors to help their clients achieve their financial dreams. Over the last year or so, he has been “going social,” drawing upon his 25+ years experience in financial services and what he learned as a college philosophy major to promote knowledge, transparency, and ethics in financial services. He believes passionately that technology is the key to a more successful financial industry that serves consumers more effectively and equitably.

Previously, he has served as EVP of Wealth Management for Cetera Financial Group, CEO of Tower Square Investment Management, CEO of Lockwood Advisors, a unit of The Bank of New York Mellon, and President of Finetre Corporation, a financial technology start-up that automated the sale and delivery of insurance products. Early in his career, he designed a mutual fund illustration system at Thomson Financial, which is still in use today as part of the ThomsonOne platform used by major financial services firms.

He lives in Manhattan Beach, California with his wife and two sons. When it’s time for fun, they enjoy sailing, scuba diving, and exploring the desert and long-abandoned mines in his highly-modified Jeep Rubicon 4x4.

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