Carving out a career as a successful virtual paraplanner isn’t just about financial knowledge and a passion for the industry, you also have to make sure to connect with your industry peers.
In other words, you need to network.
Despite how intimidating the idea of going up to people that you’ve never met and starting a conversation may seem, getting your name and face out there is central to building your career.
In fact, with studies showing that anywhere from 70 to 80 percent of jobs are not advertised, building a network of industry colleagues should be top of mind — especially if you’re thinking long-term.
The good news is that there are many ways to network and get your name out there as a virtual paraplanner if you adopt the right mindset and take consistent action.
Here are six actions to help you overcome your fear and start building relationships that matter:
Join Local/National Organizations
One of the great things about the financial planning industry is the number of organizations that you can join and become an active member of. Two of the more popular groups FPA and NAPFA, not only have a large national presence but even offer smaller subgroups for planners under the age of 36 (FPA Nexgen and NAPFA Genesis).
Getting involved with these groups can provide an opportunity to stay up-to-date on trends and industry news, as well as connect you with people that could serve as mentors (or just an ear to listen) as you advance in your career.
The key here is not just to join a group, but to get involved — and that’s a huge distinction.
Anyone can join a group and attend meetings, but the more you put yourself out there, the better your chance to increase your visibility within the community and perhaps land the perfect job.
Attending an industry conference is one of the best things you can do for your career, yet many professionals often ignore these valuable resources.
The great thing about conferences is they allow you to engage with multiple industry experts in a short period of time while providing you with educational opportunities that you can use to progress your career.
To get the most out of the experience, figure out the top people that you would like to meet and the top three subjects you would like to learn more about.
Event organizers will often release a list of the topics covered and speakers due to attend allowing you to do some research beforehand.
In fact, if there is a particular person (or people) that you would like to meet, you may even want to reach out to them ahead of time so you can guarantee meeting up at some point during the event.
When you do finally meet, be sure to make the conversation about them and their business needs and objectives. This avoids making the interaction feel like ‘just another sales pitch’ and encourages them to remember you.
Join Online Groups
Online groups are another great way to network — especially if in-person networking is not your thing.
One of the most popular platforms for these types of interactions is Facebook.
While Facebook allows you to join up to 6,000 groups, I suggest focusing on 5 – 10 where you know you’ll be active regularly. If that’s still too many for you, focus on the one or two that will have the highest long-term impact for you.
Once you join a group, plan to participate regularly by posting or commenting on something at least once or twice per week.
Set Up Your Own Website and Social Media Sites
Whether you start a personal blog, YouTube channel, or a LinkedIn Group, doing things outside of your day-to-day responsibilities can make networking a lot easier.
Creating content, whether blog posts or video, is an increasingly common way of making new connections — especially if that content is published on platforms like LinkedIn or Medium that have built-in audiences.
A few engaging posts per month can quickly boost your credibility and have you networking with industry leaders before you know it.
Even if blog posts and videos aren’t your thing, setting up a simple website that lists your experience and services will help to boost your professional appearance as a virtual paraplanner.
Start Cold Calling
I know, I know…just the words “cold call” are enough to produce an audible sigh by even the most experienced networkers. But the fact is, it can work. To be fair, a cold call is not ideal, but it has been proven effective if you are just getting started building your connections.
In the world of technology, though, a cold call doesn’t necessarily mean a phone call. It might be a cold e-mail, a Tweet, or a LinkedIn message. However, the key with all of the above is about being concise, while conveying the message to your targeted person that you are someone he or she would want to get to know.
One simple way to do this is by following the G.I.R.L.S script:
G – Greet Your Target
I – Identify Yourself
R – Make Your Request
L – Link Your Work to Their Need
S – Suggest the Next Step
Simple and straightforward! Once you commit to the G.I.R.L.S. script, you won’t have to fear a cold call ever again.
Join Simply Paraplanner
Yes, we included a plug for Simply Paraplanner in this post and no we’re not making an apology for it. I mean, at least we added it at the end…shouldn’t we get some credit for that?!
In all seriousness, we truly believe that Simply Paraplanner is the best resource for virtual paraplanners not just because we run it, but because we’ve lived it! We both found our first virtual paraplanning jobs through networking and wanted to make the process easier by creating a community specifically for virtual paraplanners.
All considered networking is an investment in yourself. And just like any investment, if you are intentional, you will begin to see dividends on that investment over time.
Ready to get started? Make your first stop our Simply Paraplanner Facebook Group where you can start networking with a community of your peers in a safe, no-pressure environment. Click here to learn more.