Beverly FlaxingtonBeverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

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Many advisors believe their next-generation employees could build a book of business from networking. After all, the lead advisor attended a lot of events, talked to a lot of people and found a lot of business that way! Unfortunately the old-fashioned networking that worked for you no longer succeeds.

In addition, with the advent of social media, networking can be just linking in with someone and sending out tweets or updates on your profile. But does anyone read them? Are you reaching the right audience?

Networking is important, but there are ways to do it well.

Consider these four tips to making networking work for your team:

  1. Just because it’s called a “networking event” doesn’t mean it’s the right event for you and your firm. Networking events are most decidedly not created equal. Find out who will be attending and the goal of the event. If it’s purely networking, realize that everyone there will be trying to meet and greet. If it’s an event with a different purpose, but opportunities to network will exist during the event, be sure you are interested in the topic and the people it will likely draw. And never go to a networking event where other advisors are vying for the same audience. Remember that most people go because they want to sell something or find a good contact, not because they want to meet you. Be judicious about where you spend your time and make it worth your while.
  1. Have a goal for what you want to accomplish. Are you hoping to practice your personal pitch or your elevator speech? Are you hoping you will find a high-value prospect? Do you want to become more confident in your interpersonal skills? Know what you expect to get out of the event and establish your success criteria in advance. These events can be fine for practice, especially for your next-gen team members. Just set a reasonable goal at the outset so you aren’t disappointed.