Monday, April 20, 2009

Elephant List

Until early February I had a financial practice associated with a large mutual insurance company. In my practice I was responsible for bringing in new clients, mostly through warm referrals. It is far easier to get someone to sit down with you if they are introduced by a friend.

The most successful tool that I used was to feed a list of people that I wanted an introduction to my clients, and if they knew anyone from the list, I would have a warm introduction.

For this purpose I had two lists that I used, the list of people that I had reason to believe that my client knew. This list was compiled of people that had some connection to my client, eg. Facebook, Linkedin, Zoominfo ect. This list was usually good for three to five referrals per meeting. These referrals tended to be lateral referrals, meaning that they were to people in the same socioeconomic vein as the client. This is fine if you are satisfied with the sort of client that you have now, but to get to bigger fish you must thing bigger.

This is where the second sort of feed list comes into play. The Elephant list.

An Elephant List is a list of big fish, people of high socioeconomic status that you have no reasonable connection to. The key to meeting these people is to know somebody, or to know somebody who knows somebody. That is where my Elephant List came into play.

At the end of each meeting I would ask my client "this is a list of people who I plan on having as clients one day, but right now I do not have a good introduction to contact them. Would you mind spending a few minutes seeing if you may know any of them?" Then I would pull out my Elephant List, a leather bound notebook, with a well penned list of people in Cincinnati who I wanted to have as clients. Some examples would be partners at law firms, owners of successful businesses, the sort of people that you see on the front page of the business section of the sunday paper.

Most of the time I didn't get any real response, but occasional I would stumble upon the nephew of a partner at a local law firm, or the next door neighbor of a high level executive. When I came across those, the biggest key was just getting the appointment, and making sure that I brought along someone with some serious experience so I didn't mess the opportunity up with my being in my early twenties.

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