Financial advisers are being encouraged to join social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to maximise their exposure.
Networking forum IFA Life says advisers are failing to maximise the number of referrals they receive because of their relative obscurity in an online age.
There are around 10 known UK advisers listed, along with their company details, on Facebook and Twitter, which enables users to update their subscribed readers in real time.
"2009 is the year of the networker," says IFA Life founder Philip Calvert. "Not only is networking a great way to meet large numbers of people, it's also a very cost effective way to raise your profile which is important whilst there are pressures on marketing budgets."
IFA Martin Bamford, joint managing director at Informed Choice, says he uses Twitter to stay in touch with his business contacts and clients.
"Whilst I use both Facebook and Twitter for social and business networking, Twitter is more business oriented," he says.
"I distribute articles and get discussions going on the site and have had a number of referrals through this."
Networking expert Andy Lopata, a co-author of two books on networking, says neglecting the potential benefits of referrals will hinder an adviser's business.
According to an IFA Life study, although 95% of IFAs believe networking is a "vital" business activity, only 5% consciously made time to attend weekly or monthly networking events - with many citing a lack of time as their excuse.
"Most IFAs know that referrals are by far the best source of new business, yet so many still aren't networking enough or asking enough people to maximise the number of referrals they receive," Lopata says.
"Clients won't refer you just because you do a good job; you need to be far more focused and strategic than that."
However, Calvert warns networking is both a strategic activity and a skill which needs to be learned in order to maximise opportunities made from new connections.
"Networking is about helping other people to make the connections they need, but there is a skill to it and unfortunately most IFAs have never had any networking training, let alone developed a networking strategy," he says.IFAonline
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