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    Imagery of a conversation circle

    Virtual or IRL, How to Create Community with Conversation Circles

    Something that might surprise you. The most successful financial advisors know how to create and nurture communities – communities of clients and potential clients. When many individuals think of working with a financial advisor, they think of working one-on-one—not super community-centric, right? But in fact, a thriving community can provide leads, referrals, and word-of-mouth marketing. It can also offer support and accountability through the value that is added to these communities, making it an invaluable asset for any financial advisor. And the good news is that there are plenty of ways to create opportunities for community. From hosting in-person events and workshops to starting an online forum or social media group, the options are endless when it comes to building a community of engaged and invested clients.

    One proven and effective way to create communities is through hosting conversation circles. These group events provide a safe space for individuals and professionals to come together and have honest and open discussions about important topics that they value, thus providing an opportunity for financial advisors to build trust and relationships within their communities while generating new leads and business opportunities. When you authentically give thoughtful conversations, the result far surpasses a phone call.

    Over the past couple of years, the pandemic has forced us to re-evaluate many aspects of our lives, including the way we interact with our communities. While in-person conversation circles were temporarily put on the back burner, financial advisors had to find new ways to adapt, leading to an increase in virtual conversation circles. As the world opens back up, advisors are opting for a hybrid model. Some in-person events have reemerged while virtual events provide flexibility for those who might not ordinarily attend in-person. The fact remains in both: create a sense of community and belonging, while showcasing the value you bring to your client’s overall well-being, especially their financial wellness.

    So, how can you host a successful conversation circle and build a pipeline of high-quality leads? Let’s dig in.

    Virtual Conversation Circles

    There’s no doubt that the pandemic has forced everyone to get a little more comfortable with technology. From virtual happy hours to online doctor’s appointments, it seems like there’s nothing that can’t be done remotely these days. And in fact, virtual conversation circles can be extremely positive for both advisors and their clients. For starters, virtual events allow advisors to connect with clients from all over the country, regardless of geographic location. They also provide an opportunity for advisors to build interactive and engaging content with the use of technology, allowing for more interaction among clients/prospects that may normally be uncomfortable speaking up.

    On the other hand, there are some unique considerations that need to be taken into account when planning these virtual events. First and foremost, it is important to make sure that you have the right technology in place. This means having a reliable internet connection and ensuring that all of your audio and video equipment is working properly. Additionally, it is important to create the proper environment for your virtual event. This means finding a quiet place to host the event and making sure that there are no distractions. Finally, it is important to be aware of the different time zones of your participants. This will help you to schedule your event at a time that is convenient for everyone.

    In-Person Circles

    As some advisors resume in-person events, they face a new set of pandemic-related challenges. One of the most important aspects of a conversation circle is to create a safe space, but this can be difficult to achieve if attendees feel uncomfortable. To avoid this, advisors should carefully consider whether they will cap the number of attendees, the event location (indoors or outdoors) and if they will impose mask or vaccine requirements. While it might feel like walking a tightrope between creating a safe space and alienating people, thinking through these logistics is essential to creating a successful in-person conversation circle. The important part is to effectively communicate so that everyone understands what to expect.

    Considerations for Both

    • Conversation Circle Topic: Choosing a relevant and engaging topic for your conversation circle is key to providing value to your community. There are a few things to consider when selecting a topic, such as whether it is timely and relevant to your audience, if it is something that you’re knowledgeable about, and if it will generate interesting discussion. For example, a timely and relevant topic might be the recent market volatility or changes to the handling of college funding. You can use these topics as an opportunity to educate your audience and help them make informed decisions about their finances while exploring the emotional side of money. For instance, you might connect college funding with how to cut the apron strings when your clients’ children graduate. Alternatively, you could segment your topics to cover a certain demographic within your client base. For instance, hosting a circle for newlywed couples about co-mingling money. No matter what topic you choose, remember that the goal is to provide value to your community and start meaningful conversations.
    • Event Promotion: If you’re planning to host a conversation circle, proper promotion is key to making sure your event is successful. To get the word out, start by posting about it on social media and emailing existing clients and prospects. You should also include information about the event in your newsletter and other marketing materials. In addition, you might consider advertising through targeting specific associations, organizations, or digital ads. Don’t forget to remind invitees that they should feel free to extend the invitation to anyone who might find the conversation useful and cap your attendance list to a manageable number.
    • Event Communication: When hosting a conversation circle—or any event for that matter—clear communication is key. If the event is virtual, be sure to include all the relevant information in the confirmation email, such as the time and time zone, link, and password (if needed). Furthermore, if attendees will need to bring anything with them (e.g., a notebook or writing utensil), communicate that as well. If you’re planning an in-person event, be sure to provide all the specific information (location, time, etc.) so that attendees can plan accordingly. And of course, be sure to follow up post-event with a thank you note and a call to action.

    As a financial advisor, you know that events are part of a good marketing plan to generate leads and build your business. At Beyond AUM, we agree, but we also believe that by creating strong communities within your client base first, you have a marketing engine churning before you ever do any outside marketing. We specialize in helping financial advisors build a strong referral and lead generation funnel by building and nurturing communities. We help advisors connect with their ideal clients and referral sources and then maintain those relationships through ongoing engagement and communication. As a result, advisors who work with us build a solid pipeline of high-quality leads that they can convert into new business.

    So, if you’re looking to take your financial advisory business to the next level, don’t underestimate the power of creating a community. It could be the best investment you ever make.

    Reach out to get started.