Entrepreneur - - By Andrew Neitlich

An ingenious networker

I just shifted some retirement funds to a money manager, who turns out to be an ingenious networker. Regardless of profession, we can all learn from him.

First, he used to be a tennis coach, with little business training. Now, at age 30 or so, he is rapidly becoming a very successful money manager. That transition seems significant because if a tennis coach can switch to money management and build up a big client base, then it gives us all hope.

Here is how he does it:

1. He has joined the local tennis, squash and golf clubs, and gets real active in those clubs.

2. His tennis/golf buddies like him and give testimonials about his work when he is around. That’s how I learned about him. At a Friday afternoon doubles league, he substituted for a regular player. My doubles partner talked about the returns his firm was getting, and I asked for his card. I called to learn more, and he sent some good information. The information he sent had a marketing slant, but also provided valuable data and charts.

3. He is very social, and loves playing tennis. Even though he is a superior tennis player vs. me, he’s played a few times with me, and we have developed a relationship.

4. When the time was appropriate, he asked about my family, which led to my telling him that my dad was always looking for some good ideas for managing money, and so he called my father with my permission (and after I called to introduce him).

5. When he spoke to my father, my sister was with him, and she got on the phone with him.

6. He repeats this exact process with a bunch of other people in the community.

Nothing he does screams blatant marketing. He is a likable guy, follows up with good ideas and information about investing, finds ways to build his network, and is rapidly building his assets under management.

It is too early to say if he’ll get better investment results than the overall stock market. But he easily builds relationships and has chosen sports as a way to get visible and meet people.

The lessons here:

1. People buy from people they like.

2. People like people with similar interests.

3. Get visible in places where you can show your skills and abilities, and build relationships.

4. Demonstrate your value with information and education. (This guy sends out nice reports about different investment options, with plenty of charts and good data).

5. Follow up. (This guy calls when he says he will, and communicates frequently, something I really require).

It’s really not very difficult.

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