Networking events provide an opportunity to be recognised as an expert, says Jay Naylor, marketing manager of Personal Touch Financial Services. But they are also expensive and time consuming, and you need to weigh up the value you will get.
Similar to selecting a financial product, Ms Naylor says advisers should remember it is down to the individual’s own situation as to whether the event will work for them and everyone’s needs are different.
She says it can be challenging to deliver one event that addresses a large group’s requirements. Also, she adds it is unlikely a delegate will forge a new relationship with someone at an event and be doing business with them the following day.
Ultimately, this is a long-term game.
Ms Naylor says networking events should be part of a longer term strategy for any business. A potential drawback is a successful event will always take much more time and dedication than imagined, she says.
Victor Sacks, IFA of Ringrose Grimsley Ltd, says: “Remember your billing time per hour and ask yourself whether it justifies the time.”
But while some events can be resource intensive, if delivered at an appropriate level to the right audience, Mark Hutchinson, head of marketing at the Personal Finance Society, says they will ultimately help position your firm as the obvious choice for solving financial conundrums, which should drive revenue opportunities.
The beauty of developing knowledge within networking groups at an event is ideas are often presented in context, Personal Touch’s Ms Naylor says.
For example, she says an attendee may have already tried and tested a potential idea and can talk through the logistical details rather than just the high level concept.
Who to invite
You should also be wary of competitors who may use the opportunity to get an insight into your business, warns Mark Charlesworth, national development manager at Sesame Bankhall Group. He says it is therefore important to think carefully about who you want to invite.
Victor Sacks, IFA of Ringrose Grimsley Ltd, says the chances are if you’re networking, you’re new to the area, or new to your role.
As a result you may not know the people you are inviting, so you should search out the business section of your local paper and see who advertises. He says you should also find out who your local mayor, MP, etc, is and invite them.
Alternatively, Mr Sacks says go to a local chamber of commerce event before you start planning your event and see who is there. Once you have gone a couple of times, Mr Sacks says you will recognise who the regulars are and you can invite them along, asking them to ‘critique’ your event.
He says: “I would steer clear of fund managers, etc. It is all about you and promoting yourself as the ‘go to’ person in your locality.”
If you are drumming up business local to you, then Mr Sacks says clearly accountants, solicitors and maybe even other financial advisers could be useful.