Why Building up Your Colleagues is the Best Investment You Can Make

When people hear “networking” they often hear “with prospective clients.” This isn’t a bad thing – you should be networking your butt off with people who you want to work with. That’s how you grow your practice and create a business you love. But networking doesn’t always have to be a client-gaining opportunity. Sometimes getting out there and interacting with your fellow advisors is the wisest use of your time. In fact, I’m a big believer in the idea that networking with colleagues is the best business investment you can make.

Some people hear this kind of advice and assume I’m crazy: You mean you want me to network with my competition? Yeah, I do. And for good reason. Viewing other business owners as your competition is an unhealthy outlook. Still, when we’re a one-person show running our own business it’s easy to fall into the competitive trap. Honestly, though, there’s plenty of clients and business opportunities to go around. So why do we distance ourselves from those who we view as our competition?

Networking with people who are building firms in your same physical location or niche market are your new networking BFFs. They’re the ones who will cheer you, push you, and help you grow your practice into exactly what you envision it to be. Here’s why:

1.    They can be your cheerleaders, your butt-kickers, or whatever else you need.

Networking with your colleagues gives you the opportunity to build your squad, your tribe, your cheer team – whatever it is you want to call it. Running your own business can be a lonely game, but it doesn’t have to be. Lean on each other to gain the kind of support you need, whether that’s someone to celebrate with or someone to push you to the next level.

2.    They recognize the value of what you do.

Because they do it themselves! Your colleagues know better than anybody exactly why the services you provide are valuable, and they can appreciate the finer points of what you do. Plus, you never know when they might come across an opportunity that might not be a fit for them, but is in need of your unique value-add.

3.    They can act as mentors.

Within your network of colleagues you will find people at all different points in growing their business. Meeting someone who was in your shoes not too long ago is an invaluable resource. They understand the challenging decisions you’re making, and how to successfully navigate the twists and turns of building a practice. No more going it alone!

4.    Building each other up means more diversity in your field.

In the fee only world, there is so much variation within niches. There are enough ways to specialize so that everyone has something exceptional to offer. Knowing what those in your competition network do, and sharing what you bring to the table, makes it easier for everyone to truly find their specialization. This leads to you finding the perfect clients for your unique niche, and helping others find their perfect clients, as well! If everyone can have success in their niche, including you, that’s an excellent goal to work toward. The best possible outcome in any situation is the one where everyone wins.

5.   You get the opportunity to see things from another viewpoint.

Only looking at things from your perspective is a surefire way to limit your options and your growth. Let’s face it, you’re awesome, but you’re not all-knowing. Networking with colleagues gives you the opportunity to see things from another angle, or hear advice that would never have occurred to you before.

6.    You’ll find confidence (or if you’ve already got that in spades, you’ll find more).

When you network with your “competition” and focus on building each other up, an amazing thing happens. Your confidence soars, and so does theirs. Rather than constantly sizing up fellow advisors in your niche market and feeling insecure, why not appreciate each other’s strengths? Everyone has something distinctive to give, including you. Let others recognize it in you, and recognize it in them.

7.   Networking karma is a very real thing.

As in all networking situations, you get out of it what you put into it. Building up your colleagues and passing along advice or opportunities you think are a good fit for them always circles back around. Invest in them – be excited for their successes, offer support when needed, and watch those favors be returned in time.

8.   Opportunities for collaboration.

Working alone can be great, but collaborating with a fellow advisor on a big project can also be an exciting change of pace. Collaborating with your associates expands your horizons and puts your name out there in new ways.  Build a strong network and be open to these new, exciting opportunities to join together.

9.   Share your wisdom.

Striking out on your own as a fee-only financial advisor is intimidating. You’ve climbed mountains and jumped some serious hurdles to get where you are today. Attending networking events with your fellow advisors gives you a chance to share the wealth of your wisdom. Someone in the crowd is sure to appreciate the knowledge you have to offer.

10.   They know what you’re going through.

Unless you’re lucky enough to have a vast pool of people who understand the intricacies of your business, you could use a network of likeminded advisors. Sometimes that means they give awesome advice. Other times it just means they make really great listeners when you need to talk through a problem you’re facing. They get it, and they get you.

Now that I’ve convinced you that networking with likeminded colleagues is the way to go, you’re probably wondering where you can find these amazing people. If you’re searching for your fee only financial planner tribe, you should consider getting involved with NAPFA (National Association of Financial Planners), as well as FPA. If you’re feeling extra bold, contact other advisors in the area directly!

I know there are more reasons that having a “competition” network is an amazing resource to have in your back pocket, these are just a few. What are some of your favorite ways to network with advisors who work in your same niche? How do you expand on those professional relationships and ensure that they’re mutually beneficial? Let me know in the comments here!

Are you going to be in the Chicago area on February 8th? I’m hosting a networking event for fee-only financial planners at 6 PM. If you’d be interested in joining, we’d love to have you! You can contact me to RSVP at arlene@kimberlitecoaching.com