Prospecting? Don’t be too obvious

By Bryce Sanders | February 8, 2013 | Last updated on September 21, 2023
3 min read

Getting involved in the community and mingling at events puts you in touch with potential clients. But if your prospecting is obvious, it’ll fail quickly.

Here are some mistakes to avoid:

Joining an organization just to get business

Other members can tell. If you join the local sports car club, don’t own one and can’t use a stick shift, they will wonder, “Why is he here?”

Better approach: Join a group where you share the passion, background or interest, and can contribute meaningfully to discussion and activities. If you aren’t a die-hard fan or follower, yet have an open mind, you still qualify. Enthusiasts are eager to share the passion for their hobby with interested newcomers.

Read: What do you want people to remember about you?

Act like you need the business

Social prospecting is like dating. Pushing business too hard (see below) makes you appear desperate.

Better approach: Successful is the opposite of desperate. When someone asks you, “How’s business?” tell some anonymous stories about how you helped people. Successful people want to know other successful people.

Read: Before being referred, you must be referrable

Introduce “What you do” into conversations

Many people become wary when they hear someone is a financial advisor. Introducing it yourself can come across as pushy.

Better approach: Let them ask, or create an environment that leads them in that direction. Do you help people gather their transaction information around tax time? At a party celebrating New Year’s Eve, mention, “It’s so good to relax. This is one of the busiest times of the year in my business.” They will probably ask why.

Read: How to explain your services

Say, “I’d like to go over your personal finances sometime”

This is tacky and can even be considered rude. An advisor who did this became the talk of our community.

Better approach: Over time, let everyone know who you are, what you do and why you are good. Short, anonymous success stories position how you have helped people similar to them. Exception: If someone loudly complains about her current advisor, you might suggest talking privately later.

Talk about yourself

You’ve seen this in dating situations: one person spends most of the date telling the other how lucky she was to meet him. Big egos are rarely attractive.

Better approach: Take an interest in others. Draw them out. Ask questions. Then, the person talking is the one having a good time. When he thinks about the conversation afterwards, he should have a positive impression of you.

Read: 3 ways to demonstrate sincerity

A hurried manner

Sometimes we look over a person’s shoulder to see if someone more interesting has arrived at the party. We are thinking about the next person to cultivate. The person you’re with finds this offensive.

Better approach: Help the person you’re with feel like the most important person in the world. Focus on him. Repeat key points he raised. If you need to get away, say you enjoyed the conversation and excuse yourself.

Read: Get business while having fun

Only talk about the market or investing

You fit the stereotype of the broker who is only interested in making money for yourself by getting other people’s money. Single subject people are boring.

Better approach: Choose one of many safe subjects like real estate, travel and local issues. You can demonstrate your expertise by relating local news to the national economy.

Handing out business cards after religious services

Wrong place, wrong time. This will build ill will and be a subject of gossip throughout the community.

Better approach: Run a small ad in the bulletin or newsletter produced by your religious organization.

Read: Ensure you’re recognized instantly

Bryce Sanders

Bryce Sanders is President of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. in New Hope, PA. His book “Captivating the Wealthy Investor” is available on