How you might be driving off high-net-worth prospects

You would like to work with more high-net-worth clients. To do so, you plan how to casually meet more high-net-worth individuals through social connections so you can become friends with them and part of their world. 

To transform these new friends into clients, the first thing you need to do is connect with them. Although you may have a sparkling wit and a keen intellect, a few social missteps and bad manners can stop that connection in its tracks. Here are a few social turnoffs that can be land mines.

1. Standing too close. Different cultures have different ideas about personal space. Generally speaking, anything under 18 inches is too close. Try for 30–36 inches of distance, which makes people feel more comfortable.

Instead: Stand at least an arm’s length away.

2. Touching them. There are cultures where hugging and backslapping are part of social interaction. When you meet people for the first time or don’t know them very well, physical contact raises alarm bells.

Instead: Don’t touch them! Think of everything that could go wrong.

3. No eye contact. This person’s interesting, but not that interesting. You are talking, but also looking over their shoulder, hoping someone more important is nearby. The person you are talking to notices! They realize you aren’t giving them your full attention. It’s insulting.

Instead: Focus on the person in front of you. Think, This could be the most interesting person in the room if I can draw them out.

4. Talking shop. They ask: “What do you do?” You mention insurance. They don’t run away. You immediately say: “Many people underestimate the importance of estate planning …” At best, they think you are one dimensional, only interested in selling something to them something. At worst, they feel trapped, looking for an escape route.

Instead: Focus on them and their occupation. Approach with the attitude you find them fascinating. There are things you’ve always wondered about their profession.

Bryce Sanders

See more from Bryce Sanders in the video, “Turn clients into friends.”

5. Addressing needs too early. A bank president shared he understood he was everyone’s favorite prospect. What he didn’t like was when people he just met socially want to take him out to lunch later in the week to address his needs. “How can you address them if I haven’t told them to you?”

Instead: Get to know people. Don’t try getting an appointment immediately after meeting someone socially. If roles were reversed, wouldn’t you feel uncomfortable?

6. Being self-involved. When surrounded by wealthy people, it’s tempting to talk about what you think they talk about. “We just came back from this great vacation …” or “I just bought this really expensive car.” “Want to see a picture of my boat?”

Instead: Let them do the talking. Be impressed.

7. Bad personal habits. You know, the basics. Body odor. Putting your finger in your nose or ear, even if you think no one is watching.

Instead: Over a couple of days, keep notes of your habits and how often you do something. Ask your spouse or significant other to name them if none come to mind.

8. Poor table manners. Read up on the subject. This isn’t about how the Victorians knew which fork to use. It’s about not wolfing your food down or reaching across the table. The people around you like to think they’re refined. Bad manners reflect poorly on your upbringing.

Instead: Get a book or do an internet search on contemporary etiquette.

9. Drinking too much. This is especially an issue with people who don’t drink alcohol. Drinking too much implies you have poor judgment. It also raises questions about your respect for confidentiality.

Instead: Don’t drink alcohol. Another option is to follow a mixed drink with a glass of water. Know your limits.

You want to communicate you fit in and are someone they would want to know. Avoid the bad-mannered land mines and let your better qualities shine through.

Bryce Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. His book, Captivating the Wealthy Investor, can be found on Amazon.

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