How to Embrace a Virtual Business




In a relationship-based industry such as financial advising, how and when you interact with certain people affects the growth and sustainability of the two most important parts of your business - prospects and clients.


You know that relationship building is a part of the job. Your ability to manage interpersonal communication is excellent and your attention to client needs is impeccable. The idea of going virtual scares you, but at the same time it excites you to be able to work from anywhere in the world without sacrificing the time with your kids, your family, or (maybe) your dogs.


Since Day 1, we've been taught how to handle in-person face-to-face interactions. From holding hands with our first love to that sweaty handshake at our first job interview, each interaction taught us how to behave, act, and react in different situations. Because of this reality, many of us fear working virtually because of the uncertainty in relationships and business development that comes with it. Of course, nothing can replace face-to-face interactions, but then nothing can replace virtual ones either.


Here are a few tips to make your virtual relationships as meaningful as your in-person interactions:


1. Preparing for Client Meetings


In-person: Preparing a client meeting with a meeting location

Virtual: Preparing a client meeting with a virtual location


Instead of reserving a room for in-person meetings, Advisors will spend time video conferencing to increase engagement with their clients. While it essentially takes the same amount of time to reserve and prepare a meeting room, you should beta test any conferencing or planning software that is client facing prior to the meeting itself.


While doing video, Advisors should remember that they can still use upper body language to help communicate their message. Facial expressions and upper body movements can go a long way when trying to build meaningful virtual relationships, along with using varied intonation while speaking.


2. Appreciating the Virtual Relationship


In-person: Client appreciation events

Virtual: Client appreciation gifts


Advisors shouldn't need an in-person client meeting to show they care. Small gifts are a great way to show clients your appreciation without sacrificing much time at all. When they have something to hold and feel, it causes them to think of you while also giving you the ability to humanize the virtual relationship. It is best to check with your compliance consultant about the frequency and the value of gifts that could or shouldn't be given.


3. Asking for help


In-person: Asking your co-worker for help

Virtual: Messaging your co-worker for help


Your co-worker relationships are just as important in-office as they are virtually. The benefit of working in an office is being able to get instant feedback from the co-worker sitting five feet away. We may think we lose the ability to interact, but with the ease of instant messaging and video chatting, communicating important information has never been easier.


For ones willing to take the extra step, virtual companies can consider building a mentorship program to allow co-workers to communicate challenges or accomplishments about their work that they are not be able to talk about on a daily basis.


Is your firm currently virtual? What tips can you share about managing virtual relationships?

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