While the global economic recovery continues to maintain a sluggish pace, there are genuine signs of growth across numerous international markets. This trend is particularly prevalent in the financial services industry, with the business lending, life insurance and asset management sectors all set to experience growth during 2013.
This is good news for financial professionals, who are also benefiting from a number of technological innovations within the industry. Financial services represent the second largest sector in terms of telecommuting, for example, which affords its representatives flexibility and empowerment within the workplace. A similar trend is prominent within the freelancing market, and Intuit's prediction that independent contractors will make up 40% of the U.S. workforce in 2020 offers further opportunity to financial services employees.
The Importance of Networking for Finance Professionals
Regardless of your working method as a financial professional or specific area of expertise, networking is a key contributor to your chances of success. Successfully engaging and interacting with clients is a challenging exercise, however, especially as the majority of academic studies fail to teach the true purpose and importance of networking.
The increasingly competitive nature of the financial services sector means that you must be able to successfully communicate with clients and market your core industry skills. With this in mind, what are the most productive methods of networking for ambitious financial professionals? Consider the following:
Social Media Engagement
The evolution of social media has been pronounced since its inception in 2005, as it has grown to meet the wider needs of business owners and professionals. It has gained increasing popularity as a networking tool for financial sector operatives, thanks primarily to the emergence of professional resources such as LinkedIn.
While this remote medium may provide you with access to a global pool of talent, however, it is important to engage your contacts and provide them with actionable information and industry knowledge. This will help to create purposeful relationships that are founded on your marketable skills and experience.
Attend Entrepreneur Meet-Up Groups
While social media continues to have a growing influence in the world of professional networking, email marketing and face-to-face interaction remain the pre-eminent methods of reaching out to clients. In terms of the latter, the advent of the Entrepreneur Meet-Up Group has given aspiring freelancers and proactive financial professionals the opportunity to forge multiple connections in a specific region or community. Through this medium, it is possible to showcase your unique personal attributes and build a vast local client base.
Social Media Day Meet-Ups
One of the most recent trends in digital marketing and networking relates to the fusion between virtual and corporeal realms, as consumers demand more engaging and interactive experiences. This has translated effectively into the world of professional networking, as the innovation of the social media day meet-up has enabled professionals to interact with their online connections in a physical location. If you are operating in a competitive marketplace such as the financial services sector, attending this type of event will build your profile and strengthen existing relationships within your network.
Content Marketing for the Independent Professional
There is a fine line between marketing and networking, as both practices aim to accomplish similar feats. Essentially, they encompass a host of various techniques that look to promote a specific product or service, while actively engaging and informing the client through interaction. This fundamental similarity means that various techniques are transferable between the sectors, with concepts such as content marketing being ideal for promoting both leading corporations and independent financial professionals. This medium also enables you to immediately fulfill a purpose on behalf of your potential clients, by using content that offers industry relevant information, help and advice.
YouTube as an Audio-Visual Networking Tool
The growth of audio-visual media has been prominent since 2010, with resources such as YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram using videos and imagery to connect users and forge networks. This trend has also impacted the financial services industry, as its relevant online content and interaction continues to be driven by quality rather than quantity.
A survey conducted of the financial sector in 2010 suggested that 42% of advisors were using YouTube videos to promote their services, connect with potential clients and share the details of previous seminars. With this trend set to continue, it is clear that audio-visual media offers a unique opportunity for financial professionals to reach a large and relatively untapped market of clients.
The Bottom Line
Even in a struggling economy, there are always some industries that manage to prosper and experience sustained growth. The financial services sector currently provides a relevant case in point, with demand soaring as individuals look to protect their capital and make more prudent fiscal investments. The increasingly competitive nature of the industry means that financial professionals must realize the importance of networking and engaging clients, using advanced technology and evolving trends to build long-term business relationships.