Written by Cyndi Thompson, Vice President of Client...
Alice is friend of Cinder and an amazing networker. As a vice president and partner at BPG Wealth Management, she’s a veteran when it comes to building lasting relationships. Alice is also a frequent public speaker on the topics of “Why Women Need to be in Charge of their Money” and “Your Network is Your Prosperity – How to Build a Strong Network by Paying it Forward”.
Alice, tell us about yourself!
When I first started in the financial industry, it was the year 2000. I am an immigrant, so I didn’t have any personal networks. I didn’t know how hard [cold-calling] was, so I started doing 200 calls every day from eight to noon. I did this for three years. I had a dream to become a financial advisor because I was told that the average advisor would make 70-80 thousand dollars per year in commission. In order to do that, I needed to double my activities. However, doubling the calls from 200 to 400 per day and doubling the working hours from 60 to 70 hours per week to 120 to 140 hours is a losing proposition – every one of us only has 168 hours per week.
Because of that, I was looking at the top producers in my office and wondering how they could make such big dollar amounts – 30 times what I was making in some cases. The top two producers told me:
“We effectively leverage our networks so that our business comes from a trusted advisor who is working closely with us and a prospect. If you are not leveraging your network and not doing business by referral, you just can’t get there. Going after a $10,000 investment account, the effort is not that different from going after a $1,000,000 account.”
Those points always stuck with me.
What does networking mean to you?
To me, it’s building connections and trusted relationships. That’s the end game.
About a year ago, a friend called to ask me for an introduction, and I said, “Let’s find some common ground between you and this person, and I’ll do a personal introduction right here, right now.” Why did I choose to go out of my way to help this person? Because we have a very deep connection, and I value our trusted relationship. She has been supporting me over time and all the way through she made that ask.
What is your best networking tip?
Go slow and focus on people who are the right match. Often you go to networking events or parties and just collect 15 business cards. This is great, but none of those people had quality conversations with you because you were going from one person to another. Rather, focus on a few people – three max – and focus on quality conversation. Through this, you might discover that I love doing karaoke, or that I came from Hong Kong, or that my mother-in-law just had her 90th birthday party. The next time you connect, you can ask “how is your mother in law, is she still kicking?” People love to be remembered.
How do you keep track of your network?
Last night I was speaking at an event, and there were a few people who told me they really liked my speech and wanted to connect. I’ve already entered their information into my database. Next, I connect with them on LinkedIn and email them “It was fabulous to see you yesterday, and I remember …” Whatever this detail is, be specific: “It’s so fascinating you came from Scotland!” Then, say “I’d love to connect with you in the next few weeks, here are my times … “
There are a few responses that will come back:
Then, the magic happens at the end of the first meeting. The most important thing is to make the other person feel good about themselves.
Do you have any advice for overcoming the anxiety surrounding networking?
For people who are afraid to talk or have anxiety, have a list of prepared questions such as “What is the most exciting thing that is happening in your life?” People are going to tell you, and some of them will drive down the path of their career or business, and that’s okay! Afterwards, you can ask “What is the biggest challenge in your business or your industry?”
Do you see yourself as a natural networker?
I don’t think I’m a natural, but I’m an extrovert. I also know some introverted friends who do a way better job because introverts tend to listen more. Extroverts typically wants to talk, but the most important thing is to hold back talking and instead ask questions. It’s not time to sell, it’s time to listen.
Many of the introverts out there will be excited to hear they have an advantage!
They absolutely do! They just need to know that it’s an advantage and then use this behavior to their benefit.
When you go to a networking event, how do you approach it? Do you have a strategy going in?
If I can know who is going to be in the room ahead of time, that’s wonderful. If somebody invited me to an industry event that they put together, I would just ask “Is there anyone there you think I should meet?” If they’ve invited you, they will tell you! Once I’ve got a few names, just like yesterday when I was speaking at a panel, my job is to at least do research on each of my fellow panelists so that I can A: add value when they’re talking because I can bring their history back, and B: have a conversation.
Is there an element of time management when you’re at an event?
My goal is to get about three new connections. Prioritize quality over quantity, because if you collect a card and that person doesn’t remember you, it’s a waste. If a conversation runs long, I’ll say “It’s great meeting you, I just want to make sure I say hi to ‘so and so’ – I hope you have a good evening in case I don’t get to say goodbye.”
Thank you for taking the time to speak with us! We genuinely think that networking can be a very fun, enjoyable, and authentic activity, so we’re glad to share experiences from people who are doing it that way.
That’s fabulous; I’m glad you guys are taking the leap and dissecting and sharing the mystery of it. I do believe that there are principles about networking; it’s all the other person (and not me).