How Advisors Make the Holiday Circuit

As “numbers” you want to look behind the curtain. How do these events work? The charity earns very little on the ticket price. Most will rent the space, hire the caterers, buy the flowers, hire the banks, rent the linens and pay for the booze. Most of the money comes from sponsorships as well as live and silent auctions. I’ve heard a nice expression relating to increasing the organization’s visibility and attracting future donors: friend-raising. I hope they also do fundraising.

Consider the following:

  1. Buy your tickets early. This should get you noticed by the staff and the committee.
  2. Buy a painting? If your office is sponsoring, they may have paid for an entire table. It is an ideal place to bring key clients.
  3. Get listed in the program. Many organizations sell a slightly more expensive ticket for customers. This gets your name into the program. People sit at their tables to have a cocktail and browse, looking for familiar names (and missing names).
  4. Take out a business card ad. The program of the event is an advertising booklet. There will be full page advertisements from major sponsors. Business card ads are usually inexpensive. Your business should have no problem with this since your business card is already a form of advertising.
  5. I’m hoping for a pre-party or an after-party. If your client is high up with the charity, they can host drinks at their house before or after the main event. You might be invited. You have the opportunity to meet their friends.
  6. Arrive at the start. These tickets cost a flat rate. Mingle at cocktail parties. Meet strangers. Ask about their connection to the nonprofit organization. How did they get involved? Say hello to familiar faces.
  7. Meet the big shots. These are people like the honoree, the chair of the event, and the president of the organization. Congratulate them on a great event.
  8. Stand up and be counted out during the paddle raise. During the live auction, most organizations announce a project and then ask people to donate money by raising their paddle. This is done in decreasing quantities. Donors are sometimes asked to stand up, which makes counting easier. At the end, they count the amount raised. Everyone applauds. You want to be counted and seen at least in the final and lowest category.

Customer parties

Once customers become friends, they often absorb you into their social circle. You can see the obvious business benefits. Here is a strategy.

  1. Accept all invites. You like these people! You are invited to their home! That’s a huge compliment.
  2. Dress well. Interpret “casual” to mean “country club casual”.
  3. Get the car washed and waxed. If your customers are really wealthy, they may have opted for valet parking. Everyone will see your car as it appears.
  4. Arrive with a gift. The term is present at home. It is often wine, flowers or chocolates. Not everyone does. It sets you apart.
  5. Don’t arrive early. The hour before the event belongs to your hosts. They are stressed to prepare everything.
  6. Mingle with the guests. In other words, don’t monopolize your hosts and sit to the side looking sad.
  7. Don’t act like no one ever feeds you. You make a first impression on other customers. Don’t drink too much either.
  8. Don’t be the last guests to leave. There will be a time when everyone seems to have checked an invisible clock and started saying goodbye. This is your signal.
  9. Then send a handwritten thank you note. Use personal stationery. It makes a big impact. Receive it in the mail the next day.

Host your own party

One way to get on the party circuit is to host your own party. It’s not as difficult as you think. Say you don’t live in a big house with a quarter-mile driveway. (At a charity event, I sat with some people I knew a bit. I noticed that when we drive past their house, we always see a windsock from the freeway. I asked why they had one. “It’s for the helipad” was their response. We’re not in that league.)

  1. Send a physical invitation. I like prints. You can make an electronic invitation, but a paper card serves as a reminder.
  2. Invite people who get along well. They probably already know each other. They will talk about your next party among themselves.
  3. Discreet is OK. Summer is comming. Having a barbecue in your backyard is good. They may be rich, but they still love burgers and grilled chicken.
  4. Consider renting a tent. Here’s something unusual: Invite people to a barbecue or a picnic and they dress a certain way. Rent a tent and call it a garden party, and people dress differently! You always serve the same food.
  5. Think about parking. You might ask your neighbors if people can use their driveway when yours is full. Mention these details in the invitation.
  6. Eat and drink enough. And ice cream too. You don’t want to miss.
  7. Consider renting glassware. It’s a big step up from the plastic cups you associate with tailgating.
  8. Hire staff. If you have someone tending the bar or refreshing the food trays, you can enjoy your own event.
  9. Circulate. Greet each guest upon arrival. Move around and talk with everyone. Say goodbye to each guest as you leave, ideally walking them to the parking lot.
  10. Have coffee and bottled water on hand. You don’t want people driving home impaired. Have a plan if a guest appears to be under the influence.

Get it right and you could become “the advisor we all do business with.”


Bryce Sanders is President of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. He provides HNW customer acquisition training for the financial services industry. His book, “Captivating the Wealthy Investor”, is available on Amazon.

Joseph K. Bennett