Engaging Your Professional Advisor Network through Events

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    Karina DeJong
    @karinadejong

    At the Willmar Area Community Foundation our professional advisors are our KEY referral sources, so we like to keep in contact with them during each new season. At our foundation we work on trying to have two educational and two social networking events each year. We have a “Professional Allies Network” team that gathers to discuss pressing topics in their fields of business and as a group decide what we will would like to cover for the year at hand during our sessions.

    Educational sessions go as follows for WACF:
    -a lunch period session that is usually 60 to 90 minutes long. We always provide lunch to those that have RSVP’d a head of time
    -we have an overarching theme and topic, which is used on the flyers that are mailed to all professional advisors on our lists (this is updated four times a year with additions and subtractions)
    -we always try to have all our professional allies network team be at the event and invite others via word of mouth or email to increase draw
    -usually it is a panel of local professional advisors across the field that share information, a large variety of opinion and allowing for open dialogue and discussion
    -WACF always ends with the philanthropic side of the discussion in which we share how we can help. We always give background to who we are and how we can be a partner.
    -we bring new pamphlets or info sheets that coincide with the topic and hand. In addition we always carry our executive directors business cards

    Social Networking event go as follows for WACF
    -towards end of day, usually starting around 4 or 4:30 and is usually a 90 minute long event
    -we provide free appetizers and beverages (alcoholic)…we try and create a theme within our flyers for the event that pairs with the food…professional advisors enjoy fun unique experiences (makes it seem, not like work!)
    -we tell everyone to invite someone new – especially our allies network!
    -it is open ended meant JUST for socializing and meeting up with other collegues in the field that they may have not had the chance to meet up with in a long period of time
    -allows for new advisors to get to meet with other advisors…creating relationships
    -we always introduce ourselves and “work the room” to engage and share about the foundation…but this is truly a time to share that we care and are here for them and all the philanthropic needs they have!

    With having these two “types” of events, we always receive good feedback. Professional Advisors enjoy not only educational pieces, but also being able to have the space to network with others they may not have the room to do. They enjoy the continued relationship and connections they have with the foundation and having the chance to continue to learn of how we are able to partner with them and their clients!

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