Monday, July 15, 2013

My (Unintentionally Successful) Adventure in Networking

For anyone who even remotely knows me, brace yourself because I am about to put you at risk of a massive stroke with this coming line…Are you ready, because here it is, something anyone who knows me even the slightest bit would never expect me to say.

I had a successful networking meeting recently, and I liked it!

In my pursuit of changing career tracks and possibly becoming a financial advisor I decided to meet with one at a firm that I have a great deal of respect for. This firm in particular in my book, has excellent street cred in regards to empowering its clients and not pushing them into financial products that would bring them harm.

So I picked a random branch near my day job office and also at random picked a financial advisor with that firm to meet with. I picked his brain and threw every question that I could think of at him. What were the struggles you faced going from a salary job to one based on commission? What are the biggest fears and common mistakes that your clients make? Here’s my story, if you were me would you pursue the path to become a financial advisor? What are the hardest aspects of taking and passing specific security license exams? How is the firm’s training program? Is there pressure to push the firm’s credit products onto your clients?

For the sake of keeping this particular post to a reasonable length I will stop there. But it was incredible to meet with someone working in a career that I have been considering for the last four years, and that same person is doing it at a firm that I highly respect and would love to work for. I was incredibly humbled and thoroughly grateful that this financial advisor took time out of his day to meet with me and talk about his career.

Now in general I am a bit of a snob when it comes to formal networking events. I am not a fan of these happy hour type events where I walk away with ten pounds of business cards received from a room full of people simply looking for an angle on how they can use you. If you can’t tell I find formal networking events to be high pressure and those active participants come across as slimy and scummy. But this one in particular was different.

I did my best to get as much information as I could out of the financial advisor  while relaying that I was genuinely interested in learning as much as I could about his experiences and his day to day. I would like to point out that I relayed that I was genuinely interested because I actually was and still am very interested.

By the end of our meeting I was taken by surprise when the financial advisor, after having given me excellent insight and suggestions for how to most effectively transition to become a financial advisor, conveyed that he was more than willing to offer a recommendation and help me find a way to join his firm if I was interested.

So maybe in the right context, when there is genuine interest by both participants: one to share and one to learn, that maybe, just maybe, networking is not the tool of the devil :)

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