Best practices in the current environment
As offices reopen, many are returning to in-person routines, but the virtual and hybrid communication approaches adopted over the last two years are here to stay. That means we all need to stay flexible in how, where, and why we meet with colleagues, clients, and prospects. Here are tips for making your client interactions as effective as possible, whether they’re in person, online, or a combination of the two.
If you’re considering resuming in-person group meetings, be sure to check the latest government guidance on gathering safely indoors or consider outdoor meetings if practical. To avoid crowding indoors, use larger conference rooms instead of offices and limit the number of people per meeting to accommodate social distancing. Here are some ways to make in-person meetings more engaging:
- Meeting in person allows you to observe and react to your client’s “style tells” so you can adapt your approach accordingly. For example, extroverts often move in closely and maintain strong eye contact. They also speak at a faster pace and in a louder voice. Introverts, on the other hand, will show more closed-off body positions and tend to be less animated when communicating. They also prefer to interact in small group or one-on-one settings. In either case, aim to match your clients’ pace and energy.
- Choose in-person meeting topics wisely. Certain meetings can benefit from the attendee meeting in person. When meeting a client or prospect for the first time or speaking about a sensitive subject, such as estate planning, it can be more effective if you and your client are both physically present.
Virtual meetings are commonplace now, and these guidelines can help make your on-screen interactions even more productive and engaging:
- Start strong. A good opening can set the tone for the rest of your meeting. A brief, compelling story can help draw people in and create an emotional connection to the topic. State the purpose of the meeting and share a high-level agenda so everyone can get excited about what’s to come.
- Limit meetings to less than one hour. Research shows that participant concentration begins to fade around the 40-minute mark. Plan the flow of your meeting carefully beforehand—and be sure to allow time for questions.
- Consider designating a moderator to manage technology behind the scenes so you can focus on hosting the meeting.
- Leverage chat or poll features to drive greater interactivity and participation.
These meetings can bring many of the benefits of in-person and virtual gatherings, but also some new pitfalls. Here’s how you can prepare:
- Prepare ahead of the meeting. Do a test run of operating the meeting software and equipment. Be sure to share on-screen any documents distributed to participants in the room. You may also be able to share documents via your meeting platform.
- Keep track of how many participants will be remote and how many in-person. Having just one person in a meeting join virtually can leave them feeling left out. Strive to have roughly the same amount of in-person and virtual participants. During the meeting itself, make an effort to solicit input from those in-person and especially those joining virtually, to ensure everyone in the meeting is engaged.
Your clients and prospects also expect you to have a legitimate online presence—it’s one way they measure your credibility. Online sources are now a close second to referrals as a way clients find financial professionals. Younger clients, particularly those under age 50, look for frequent communication on multiple channels, so post to social media platforms at least weekly. Follow these tips to better engage with clients online:
- Be sure you are visible online when local prospects search for you. Do an online search on yourself with phrases like “financial professionals near me” to see where you rank in search. If possible, consider creating a Google Business profile so people can give feedback and ask questions.
- Leverage LinkedIn. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is a good reflection of both you and your services and continue to expand your list of connections. Establish a LinkedIn posting routine sharing insights and commentary regularly, which is especially of interest to younger investors. You should also optimize your profile for SEO and stay up to date on current keyword searches so clients can more easily find you.
- Consider a Facebook Live Q&A. A livestream allows you to connect with clients and prospects in an organic and authentic way. Plan your stream in advance and invite your followers to join at the designated time. Keep in mind that you can stream to as large or small an audience as you’d like using your privacy settings. Select a topic for your stream and invite the audience to submit their questions as you discuss and provide real-time answers. Aim to have five minutes of content prepared to share just in case your audience doesn’t engage right away.
- If you have the time and budget, a good way to promote your services is by starting a podcast. You can use this platform to connect with clients by discussing trending financial topics and giving practical advice that they can listen to on their own time. You can also invite guests to your show who can provide valuable advice.
- Post to Twitter and Instagram. You can share daily updates on Twitter—a microblog for live updates and announcements—and Instagram, where you can post short updates along with pictures.
Whether everyone is on Zoom, it’s a hybrid call or you’re meeting in person, it’s important to continue finding ways to create effective and engaging meetings. Flexibility will be key as we meet with colleagues and clients and adapt to a combination of formats and evolving preferences.
Download the article and contact your T. Rowe Price sales representative for compelling content to share with your clients and more insights on engaging with them effectively.