“I appreciate your help, but I’m not ready to…” Fill in the blank. Network? Have a prospective client meeting? Have a client?
I have heard it all. Get moving and get ready for something anyway. Baby steps are okay!
NOT READY TO NETWORK?
Let’s start with networking. I could go on all day about finding the networking that fits your style and how painful the early stages are, but for now let’s just get you out the door. What do you really need to network?
Business cards. Obvious, yes, but people use this as a reason to postpone networking. So get business cards. You can use Moo or Vista Print and make one in less than an hour. Keep in mind no one plays a business card comparison game. If the card you have at your first networking event is not the same as the one you have 3 months later, no one will know! If they do notice, it is most likely because the new card is nicer. Keep in mind a few pointers:
- Use simple fonts – not only is it more legible, it will allow for people to easily capture an image of your card into their CRM
- Don’t skimp on the weight of the paper, but don’t worry about spending more on extra thick cards
- Avoid glossy cards – they are difficult to write on and capture as an image
- Leave some white space for notes
Elevator Pitch/30 second intro/tag line. People really stumble on this. Come up with a phrase that makes the listener ask the next question. You do not want the response to be “Oh, nice.” You can do this with laughter or an intriguing turn of phrase, just don’t get stuck on creating it for too long. Nothing helps an elevator pitch like saying it in real life. That and listening to others. You will hear some that are better and others that are worse. You will hear flaws in yours and be able to gauge the response to different tweaks you make. Take notes at events on what struck you and what didn’t.
Yourself. This is the big one – the most important thing you need. Be yourself. These are your future colleagues, connections, and friends. Start as you wish to finish – as yourself.
NOT READY TO HAVE A PROSPECT?
When you begin, you may find yourself busy getting ready, trying to put the perfect marketing materials in place, and being afraid no one will hire you. Create a startup checklist – this is a great job for your accountability partner or coach to help you with. Brainstorm everything you need to get done. Throw it all out there and then prioritize so you are working through it and ready when the phone rings.
First do the legal stuff! Get registered and insured. Open a bank account. Registered Investment Advisors, don’t start chatting yourself up before it’s legal.
Second, think about what you will do when the phone rings. Remember, this will evolve, but get started. I signed my first client and had no contract. So guess what I did five minutes – or maybe it was 2 – after they “hired” me? I got my butt on the phone with a coaching pal and scrounged her contract. Thank GOD for friends who don’t believe in competition! RIAs don’t have to worry about that, but you get the idea.
Once you know what you will do when a client wants to hire you, move on to making that phone ring.
NOT READY TO TALK TO A PROSPECT?
I have good news. For the most part you don’t TALK to a prospect. You LISTEN to a prospect.
Remember the 80-20 rule. You listen 80% and you talk 20%. So that means for a one-hour appointment you only have to talk 12 minutes! You listen for pain points, history, anything that helps you know this client and how you can help, and if you want to help. Remember, you won’t want to work with every client. Listen for that as well.
When my kids were looking for colleges I took them all on a throw away visit. A visit to a school they didn’t really care about attending. I did it so they could see what to look for, what to ask, and how to get the most out of a visit to a school they DID care about. You can mirror this with your first prospects. Eventually you’ll want to learn better screening practices and make sure you are meeting with people you truly want to have as clients, but in the beginning, while you can practice on the dog, it works better when you practice on humans. So find those prospects, get that face time, and remember – 80/20!
Not ready to sign a client?
Yeah, everyone has been there. I know that seems counterintuitive. The whole POINT is to sign client, right? And yet Imposter Syndrome rears its ugly head, we realize it all sounded good in theory, but we aren’t quite ready. We all have that moment when we want to run and hide. Don’t. Move forward, one step at a time, and get it done.
Your first clients will not be as smooth to onboard. They will take longer to serve, but they will forever be nearer and dearer to your heart than any others.
Hiding places – we all have them. Processes make glorious hiding places because they are important, but they can still be used as an avoidance measure. Step out of the hiding places. Put your foundations in place and then remember this:
- You have the basics. Your processes will evolve over time. That is okay; that is expected.
- You are educated. You may not be perfect, but you know how to plan and you know more than your clients.
- You are worth it! Ask for and expect the price you are worth.
- All you have to do is stay one appointment ahead of the client.
Accept that the first appointments and all the work you do on your first clients will take longer. That is in part because of everything you’re learning. You will be overthinking and nervous about how well you are doing. And you will have the ability to focus on them in a way you can’t when you sign your 50th client.
You are ready. You are not perfect, but you are ready. Go get ‘em.