First of all, I received a letter earlier this week. Well, not exactly a letter, but a note in my email box. I don’t know about you, but the fact that there was a real live note from an actual reader who wasn’t one of the handful of bloggers who read this thing….it made me positively giddy.
Then I read the note. The writer references this post, which may have been the most controversial one I’ve written to date. We had some good discussions around charitable giving and whether there was value in handouts, didn’t we?
Here’s the note:
I first want to say that I feel the article is pretty open minded- and I agree with both points of the story- since you talk about both aspects to helping people in poverty. I just want to say that some poor people are just born poor-like you acknowledged and just don’t have the chance to become wealthy because of their conditions (family situations, etc).
I think there are some people that would remain poor even if you gave them money, because they are surrounded by poverty and don’t know what to do with it. On the other hand, I think are some really smart, capitalist Americans who do know what to do with it and really deserve it (at least more than others around them) because they are not asses.
I am one of those people, and like you said, I don’t spend money on drugs, alcohol or cigarettes. When it comes to college, I don’t really have enough to go to a good one and I’m not sure how much more I would be making after going, the economy seems slim.
I don’t know how to stand out to the affluent because I know they think, oh, another jerk likely, I definitely shouldn’t give them money. I would even be glad for someone to loan me enough to make it out or invest in a business. I mean, if you can’t pay someone back when they give you a ton of money than you are just a bad business man regardless.
So how can I find someone who will do this for me? You sound like you have a lot of cash from your article- can you help me out? I am very calm and composed. Anyhow, all it would take is what’s considered pennies to people like you to completely change my life. If a billionaire just gave me a tiny chunk of what they had my problems would be over.
Thank you so much for reading,
I’d like to not give out my info yet due to the nature of my request but if you can help me I will be totally willing to give you my details. Thank you so much for responding to my first email as well,
Thanks to you for having the guts to write this!
I want to focus on your phrase, “I don’t know how to stand out to the affluent because I know they think, oh, another jerk likely, I definitely shouldn’t give them money.” My wealthiest clients were some of the most generous people I’ve ever met…but not with their money.
I think you’re asking the affluent the wrong question while you’re trying to stand out to them.
My wealthy clients were largely generous with their time and their connections. Those are what you should aim to achieve through your affluent meetings. When I first started working with wealthy individuals, I thought they wouldn’t have time for me. Here I was, a guy in his late twenties…and a brand spankin’ new financial advisor. I didn’t have the first clue how to manage large sums of money. What could they possibly want from me?
Wasn’t I surprised to find out the truth. I was asking the wrong question, too.
I still don’t know the answer to that question (why me?), and I think the motives often depend on the actual affluent person. What I know is that they DID honestly want to help me. In some cases they saw themselves in me and wanted to help me avoid some of the mistakes that they’d made over the years. In other cases, they just enjoyed helping out another human. It gave them a sense of pride to be able to use their resources to help. In still others, I think it was just a muscle reflex.
Here’s what you want to know about wealthy people: Their most precious commodity is time. They have plenty of money, but the reason they became wealthy is that they don’t just throw it around. They have a healthy respect for every dollar. Therefore, wanting to save time and money, they have done what you’d expect: they’ve become excellent networkers. They talk to other affluent people. It was interesting: when my wealthy client base began to grow, it grew quickly. Once someone knew that I wasn’t going to screw them and offered a great service for a reasonable price, they told all of their friends.
People with little time can’t tolerate messing around. That’s why when one person finds a service, product or person they really like, they tell everyone they know about the service. That way, they can help their friends save time also. (Another upside to working with affluent people…shorter meetings. They made decisions fairly quickly once they had enough data.)
Wealthy people also know that knowledge is power. If I possess knowledge that you want, I’m considered more valuable. Why are you at this blog? While I’m sure it’s because you think I’m incredibly attractive and wicked funny (in both cases, correct), there’s probably an ounce of truth that you think I know something and might be able to teach you. (You’re so sadly mistaken!) Wealthy people love to spread knowledge. They know that if they disseminate their knowledge people will keep coming back to them for more. As they talk to more people they find out more that they need to know to remain successful. Being a knowledge broker and spreader becomes a self fulfilling role.
Affluent individuals aren’t looking to hand over money. They worked hard to achieve their status. They expect you to do the same. They’ll help you climb the ladder, but they aren’t going to climb it for you. Now, if you came to an affluent person with a business plan and a clear path for them to win also, you might be able to grab two things: a nice investment and mentorship. But guess who usually gets those investments? People who have already mastered networking with affluent people and who have garnered the knowledge to create a successful business.
Another mistake when dealing with affluent people: they don’t have time for b.s. I know some advisors that I’ve worked with in the past who thought they could charge affluent people a ton of money. Remember that paragraph above about being knowledgeable? Don’t try to overcharge someone with tons of money. Not only will they find out what you did, but they’ll tell more people than non-affluent people would even imagine telling. Here’s a better strategy: if you help affluent people for a fair price, you’ll never have to market hard again, because they’ll do all of your marketing for you.
By the way, that whole “back scratching thing” (you take care of me/I take care of you)? I find affluent people practice that better, too, than non-affluent people. I can always tell when I’m interfacing with a non-affluent person when they don’t recognize when I’m doing them a huge favor. Affluent people get it.
So, in this note, reader, I’ve given you some real tips about what I think you should be seeking. You shouldn’t ask to be handed money. Money handed to someone isn’t respected. Instead, follow this approach:
1) Network with affluent people. You’ll not only learn a ton, but you’ll be exposed to their network. This will open up opportunities. You’ll also find yourself learning the traits wealthy people share.
Not sure how to start? Check out Dr. Thomas Stanley’s book called Networking With The Affluent.
2) Spend your time gaining and applying knowledge. By becoming a knowledge broker, you’ll soon become a sought-after commodity. People will then gladly pay you for your knowledge, and not only will you become successful, but life will get easier and easier every day.
As I read through this, I know that it sounds Pollyanna. It isn’t. Today, right now, if you’re worried about your stack of bills, like I was when I had no money, you have to focus on activity and side income opportunities. Don’t forget the long term, though. While I was working two and three jobs at a time loading chicken trucks, plowing fields, building radiation walls, working the drive through at McDonalds, telemarketing and delivering newspapers, I knew that these were only stepping stones toward my real career in the future.
Good luck! Thank you, thank you, thank you for the question.
The lesson, Stackers? Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I owe my career to people who shared wealth and knowledge with me. What you don’t ask for, you’ll never receive.
Anyone have other tips for our reader? Fire away in the comments. I’d love to learn more from you there.
Matt @ momanddadmoney
“Wicked funny”? What are you, from Boston? Don’t you dare try to steal our catchphrases.
I think you’re absolutely spot on. Over the past year and a half or so I’ve tried to be more proactive with simply connecting with successful people in my field of interest and it’s rare that they aren’t willing to spend at least some time with me. Make a good first impression and you’ll be AMAZED at how excited many of them are to help you out even more. Those connections are worth far more than getting handed a stack of change. And really, it can work just as quickly, maybe even more quickly. Unless you’re really struggling for survival, money isn’t going to open doors for you all that fast. The right connection could land you a job within a couple of days.
I guess you caught my revolution to take over the Boston accent…but now do I have to relinquish my new bean collection?
I pretty much agree with everything you said.
I started working as an insurance agent a little over a year ago for a very well respected business in town. One thing that I have learned is to get straight to the point with people and do everything you can to try to help them.
If you do a good job they send all of their friends and family your way. If you can give people something they need and make it quick, simple, and most of all accurate they’ll refer all kinds of other people to you.
I can’t stand it when someone (and it’s usually an insurance agent) tries to “build rapport” with me. If we get to the point, there will be plenty of places during the conversation to find rapport.
I found when I was “selling” financial planning that if I jumped in, sooner or later we’d talk about something from their life. That would give me the opportunity to “build rapport” during a natural discussion instead of a fake, “Hey, how are YOU doin’?”
Mrs PoP @ PlantingOurPennies
You can do what Mr PoP did during the depths o the recession – get a job slinging cell phones or some other commission sales position where you interact with the public and treat every day like a job interview. Rich people and hiring managers at B2B sales shops buy cell phones too, and he had several employment offers in the 6 months he sold phones. He took one, and it’s led him to a $100K+ sales job.
Brilliant strategy. Great advice for our reader. Every client is a chance to make a great impression, even if she looks like she can’t afford the $40k handbag.
Common Cents Wealth
This is great advice. Sometimes money seems like the easy answer, but often times it’s just a solution to a symptom, not the problem. It can be tough to work up the courage to network with the wealthy, but I’ve found that they are more than willing to help out if you just ask.
It’s actually really fulfilling to network with people who’ve “been there” as well. As I hung around more affluent people I enjoyed their outlook. Affluent people are usually positive about the future. I don’t think that’s because they’re wealthy….I think their optimism helped them achieve wealth.
Done by Forty
This is a great post. It reminded me of some of the lessons from Rich Dad, Poor Dad.
Seek connections and knowledge, do so with integrity, and the money takes care of itself.
Isn’t that the case? I love the “who you know/what you know” arguments. People who don’t vote for both are in trouble.
Spot-on, Joe! Time is the most precious commodity of the affluent and if you can help give them more time, they will love you forever. I think we have a tendency to forget that they, no matter how large their bank account may be, are people first and foremost. We think they are unapproachable, but most are really eager to help and flattered to be asked to share their wisdom. I am constantly amazed by the generosity of my affluent clients, but you are right, they are very particular with how they share their money. They carefully pick which organizations to support and will invest in the right person/business who they believe will earn them a profit. They never hand out money for the sake of handing out money.
Great insight, Shannon. I agree: affluent people have a huge respect for the amount of time YOU spend with them and graciously reward you for spending it on them.
John S @ Frugal Rules
Great advice Joe! I could not agree more in regards to time and those that are affluent. They can always, generally, find ways to grow their money even more, though their time is so precious. Really, time should be precious to all of us regardless of our net worth, but it’s exponentially so to those that have wealth. I say be genuine, look to learn from them and take the time you can get and the rest will come in time.
Love it. Agree: we all should treat time with respect! I was guilty of this myself. I used to prefer to take the long way to solutions. Now I think, “Just give me the damned recipe so I can focus on the important parts!”
These are keen observations on the affluent. I can’t say I’ve had access to many affluent people over the years, but the ones I have do very much fit this description. I think it also helps to “put yourself in their shoes.” If you worked hard and smart for you money, would you be willing to just give it away? Probably not. Rather, you’d be much more open to providing advice/mentorship of some capacity.
A mentor of mine called this “seeing all sides of the cube.” Great comment. Thanks!
Edward - Entry Level Dilemma
I guess I’m pretty well regulated to not being affluent, because I hate networking at talking to strangers.
Houston, we have a problem…. 😉
Awesome post. There are indeed, no free lunches…however, there is always good information to be used in a beneficial manner.
I am a person of mediocre means who hasn’t worked in a “real job” for the last seven years. I have a number of friends who are “of means” who could certainly have helped me attain a wonderful 9-5 job in my recent job search. I decided to use my own mad skillz and the volunteer work I’ve done over the last several years to help me land a really (hopefully) great job with lots of opportunity.
Dear person – please use your own skillz to give yourself a hand up instead of a hand out. You will be more pleased with the outcome.