Here’s how to get into the center of the action instead of standing on the sidelines wondering what you did wrong. (Photo: Shutterstock)

“Gosh, it’s crowded in here.  But why is that man standing all alone over there?  He did what?  No wonder no one is talking with him.”  The holidays are a time when everyone loosens up a little.  It’s also a great time to make initial connections with people who have business potential.  Or not. Here are five particularly big holiday social prospecting mistakes:

1. Logoed clothing.  Nothing says “I’m here on business” than a bright sports jacket with the firm logo on the breast pocket.  (Realtors have been known to do this.)  You might get away with one item, like a lapel pin or cufflinks, but multiple items together scream “I’m a salesman!”  People generally avoid salesmen.

2. I would like to go over your finances sometime.  Somehow, you feel like someone has slid their hand into your pocket or someone’s digging around in your purse. People consider their finances private and confidential. Preparing a net worth statement is like standing around without any clothing as people stare at you. Suggesting you meet to talk business could be done much more tactfully.

3. Here’s my card — let’s do lunch.  A bank president told me he understands when he enters a room he is everyone’s favorite prospect.  He finds it annoying when someone meets him for the first time, then suggests going out to lunch to discuss his needs.  “How can they discuss my needs?  I haven’t told them about my needs!”  He’s OK with someone investing the time to identify a need and proposing a solution.  “Just don’t talk to me about something I don’t want.”

4. Gotta run.  I want to talk with that guy over there.  When we talk with people, we usually look them in the eyes. You don’t maintain sustained eye contact, but it’s how you connect.  When you don’t make eye contact but look over their shoulder instead, it implies you are waiting for someone more important to come into the room. People can sense your attention is elsewhere. They find it very annoying.

5. I could make a fortune off that guy over there. Would you introduce me? Think of social prospecting like dating. You would never be that forward in a singles bar. (I hope not.) In dating, everyone knows what everyone else would like to happen, but there’s a ritual you follow.

If a wealthy community leader enters the room, your friend beside you understands you consider that person a potential business prospect. Suppose you said:  “He does so much for the community.  Every time you open the newspaper, he’s always endowing something. I would like to thank him. Would you introduce me?”  Your friend would probably say “Sure!”  Your friend knows you also see the person as a business prospect, but you have approached getting an invitation far more tactfully.

These five tips should get you into the center of the action instead of standing on the sidelines wondering what you did wrong.

Bryce Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. He provides HNW client acquisition training for the financial services industry. His book, “Captivating the Wealthy Investor” can be found on Amazon.

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