Think about the impact an adviser can have on client relationships if he is the first — and maybe only — professional in their lives to congratulate them on that important business or personal success. The likelihood of those clients leaving to find an adviser who understands them better just went way down.
The secret lies in searching online for key information and setting up alerts that let the adviser know, say, when a top client's firm gains a large contract or when a client's daughter wins the state spelling bee.
Setting up accounts and profiles on social media sites and establishing a connection with clients through those accounts is a necessary first step. Carefully describing an adviser's value proposition, posting interesting and educational info and linking to a firm's website are also early moves into social media — they help establish an adviser's brand. However, real business value can be unearthed if advisers dig further with the tools.
“I guarantee you will create a deeper relationship with clients and identify new prospects,” said Sam Richter, chief marketing officer of ActiFi, to a group of advisers at the FPA Business Solutions conference earlier this month in Chicago.
Mr. Richter's online searching tips include using quotes around names in a search and doing more advanced searches that eliminate certain mentions or include certain terms. For instance, to search for client "Liz Skinner" and not include those entries that include basketball (because I am not the Liz Skinner of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame), but do include mentions of the word reporter, the search would look like: "Liz Skinner" -basketball + reporter.
Other advanced search techniques include using *, which basically means "something" when you can't recall the exact name of a person or company, and using ~, which essentially means "sounds like."
Advisers should create alerts from Google or other search providers to stay in touch with what's happening in the lives of top clients and prospects. To set up the alert on Google, use the search terms that you've figured out filter the most targeted results for that person.
Then stand back and reap the rewards from the client who's enormously impressed when they get your note of congratulations the night their son scores the championship-winning touchdown.
There also are methods of searching for information that go beyond what Google searches, which is only 5% of the web, according to Mr. Richter.
Many services typically allow some free searching and can often be used at the local library. Check out: Manta.com, Reachable.com (shows connections with others), Opensecrets.org (political persuasions), 411.com (to find addresses), Zillow.com (home values), as well as Criminalsearches.com — and Mr. Richter's own, YouGottheNews.com.
Another way to dig into a client's life is to fully examine their LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook accounts to find hobbies or other interests that would be topics the adviser may have in common with the client or other curious tidbits the adviser could mention in the next meeting to delve further into their personal goals.
An adviser might say, for example, “Sara, I noticed on your Facebook page that you like surfing. Is that something you've been able to do recently or would like to do more of?”
By checking out someone's LinkedIn profile, you may discover a client is connected to a local firm's president who you've been hoping to contact. The adviser might approach the client by saying, “I noticed through LinkedIn that you are connected to John Jones. How well do you know him and do you think the three of us could play golf or have lunch together one day?”
Consider creating an alternative profile to do your investigative surfing so LinkedIn members can't see that you have examined their profile if you don't want them to!