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Time to Decompress – and Maybe Land a New Client

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Aug 6th 2015
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Everybody needs to decompress. Vacationing doctors and lawyers don't want to be pressed for free advice. You maintain a low profile while you are getting away from it all. But don't deliberately shut the door on opportunity.

On vacation, the incubation period for relationships is dramatically accelerated. Think about Club Med's reputation in the 1970s and 1980s, or “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” This also applies to the cultivation of friendships when couples or families meet on a cruise or at a resort.

Dial it up a notch. Lots of serious business is done on the golf course. Stories abound of financial professionals taking on high-net-worth clients who they met while traveling on expensive luxury vacations. This can work for you if you are comfortable making friends with strangers.

Television and movies often feature shallow, backslapping salesman characters. You've encountered them on vacation before. People make judgments in the first few seconds of meeting someone. Have you ever told your spouse, “I can't put my finger on it, but there's something about that guy I just don't like.” That's not you.

Are you open to the idea of meeting new people while on vacation while lightly positioning yourself? Here are 10 tips to consider:

1. Dress well. You are in a world where the car you drive or size of your home doesn't matter. You are appraised by your appearance. Regardless of shape or size, dress conservatively in clothing that fits.

2. Downplay. You aren't the head of a firm or chairman of a country club. You are a CPA from Westchester, New York, or Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. People you just met may check you out on Google or LinkedIn after meeting you. Let your profile do the talking.

3. Find common interests. It's easy to start conversations if you share the same passion. Resorts offer golf, lectures, trivia contests, cooking classes, and lots more. This becomes the shared interest.

4. Talk travel. Maybe you're not playing golf or attending a cooking class. Instead, you are sitting at the bar enjoying your first Long Island iced tea of the day. Travel is a safe topic. Chances are your fellow resort guest is well-traveled.

5. Draw them out. It's tempting to prove you are a sophisticated traveler. Ask questions. Express enthusiastic interest if they mention a place you haven't visited. How did they choose it? What did they like best about it? If they've named a city you frequent regularly, share restaurant tips.

6. Keep it short. This is a judgment call. If it's a casual meeting and you are running out of conversation, excuse yourself and catch up with your family or get back to that book you were reading poolside. Don't be too intense. If you feel like you've just discovered a long-lost sibling and you were separated at birth, you can keep talking.

7. Repeat often. You see them again and again during the first few days of your vacation. Bring your spouses into the picture. Have dinner together. Plan a day's excursion. Continue identifying interests in common. Don't get intense or bring up business.

8. Keep in touch. Catch up for farewell drinks. Share some stories about the great time you had. Indicate you would like to keep in touch. On cruise ships, passing menus and collecting contact information is common. Do you send out holiday cards? That's a rationale for collecting the data.

9. Share photos. It's likely you took some great photos. You could share them instantly, but they are more impactful if you send them a week later when everyone has settled back into their routines.

10. See them again. Suggest getting together for dinner if they live under 50 miles away. If they live within a driving distance of 50 to 100 miles, suggest they visit for the weekend. It's likely they will extend similar invitations to you. If they live far away, email or talk about your plans for next year's vacation travel.

Talking Business
If they bring up business during the vacation:

  • Be gracious and answer general questions.
  • Offer to send an article or report addressing the issue they raised.
  • Suggest addressing their questions once everybody has returned home. You initiate the call.

Can you bring up business? Yes, if it's done tactfully:

  • Do they do their own taxes or do they work with someone?
  • Are they happy with their CPA? Would they recommend them?
  • From your conversation you deduce they are about to make a serious and costly mistake. You tell them there are things they need to know. You will put your professional hat on after the vacation – or now, if they insist.

If you want to step into a slightly aggressive role, when you are back home you might mention you enjoyed meeting them socially. You would like the opportunity to meet them professionally to explain what you do and how you help people.

About the author:
Bryce Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. in New Hope, Pennsylvania. He provides HNW client acquisition training for the financial services industry. His book "Captivating the Wealthy Investor" can be found on Amazon.com.

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