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Your Network: A Banker's Hidden Superpower

Uncategorized Jan 14, 2024

Bankers have a superpower that many of them don’t realize they have.  As a banker, you connect with customers across industries as well as up and down supply chains.  Many times bankers purposely target prospects in different industries/supply chains as a way to diversify their portfolio, and as a result, bankers know a lot of different businesses.  Why does that matter?  Because there will be instances when you can lean on this network to benefit one of your customers, and it leads to a tremendous amount of value being created.  Maybe you have a contact who has gone through whatever your current customer is going through.  Maybe your contact makes the widget needed by your contact.  Maybe your customer is thinking about jumping into an industry where your contact has had success.  The potential reasons for these connections are expansive if you are paying attention to them.  Let’s explore the Top 3 reasons why bankers don’t leverage their networks, as well as the Top 3 Reasons why they should.  


Top 3 Reasons Banker’s Don’t Leverage Their Network to Help Their Customers 


#1 Confidentiality Concerns

Now this one is definitely a valid concern. As a banker, one of the central pillars of our job is confidentiality. This is because we deal with some of a customer’s most sensitive information. This concern should not prevent us from utilizing our network though. It just means we need to okay a conversation with each side of our network prior to bringing them together.  This can be done rather simply.  After identifying the opportunity, ask if the customer would be interested in meeting with your network contact to talk about the opportunity.  It is important to talk in generalities because it protects the confidentiality of your network contact while still giving the customer the context as to why they would want to meet with this contact.  Once the customer agrees, approach your network contact, and again using generalities, explain the potential connection.  Once both parties are willing to meet, setup it up.  By approaching the connection this way, you are able to bring the parties together, but both parties confidentiality is maintained if the connection ultimately isn’t possible.  


#2 Can’t think of it in the moment

This is one that has a sneaky impact on bankers.  When you are in the middle of a customer meeting, it can be difficult to identify an opportunity to bring in your network.  In a customer meeting, there is a lot to do.  Between following the conversation, identifying the needs, and referencing policy limitations, it is a lot to keep track of.  However, if in addition to all of those things, a banker can identify an opportunity to pull in their network, it will be worth it.  


#3 Feelings of “I need to do it on my own”

Many bankers are self-confident people, and that can be both a good thing and a bad thing.  One negative of this though is if the banker believes  they need to be able to do it all on their own.  Similar to a 2 year old who insists they will put their shoes on “all by self,” bankers get sucked into the same thing: I will help the customer, “all by self.”  Why does the customer need anyone else if they have me?  This narcissistic view can really limit the potential of the relationship with your customer.


Top 3 Reasons Bankers Should Leverage Their Network to Help Their Customers


#1 Show value to both the customer and network contact

The first reason a banker should consider pulling in their network is because of the value it brings to both the customer and network contact.  First and most obviously, the customer will benefit from connecting with your network contact.  This could be because the network contact could have experience going through something your borrower is currently going through, or they could be a potential customer/supplier for your customer.  Secondly the network contact gets some very valuable recognition.  As the banker, you didn’t just select anyone from your network, you selected “them,” and that recognition can profoundly impact your network contact.  


#2 Potential Direct Benefits

The second reason a banker should consider pulling in their network is because of the direct benefit the connection could bring.  This has been mentioned a couple times so far, but I thought it is relevant to point it out again.  This connection could result in many outcomes: maybe a new customer/supplier relationship is formed, maybe there is a transfer of knowledge about a process or industry, or maybe they just become great friends.  All of these things are valuable, and all of these things only happened because their banker made the connection.


#3 Shows value of working with you

The third reason a banker should consider pulling in their network is because it gives the customer a clear example of the value they receive from working with you versus your competition.  If you are humble banker, it can sometimes be difficult to take credit for the value you bring, but this is something you need to get comfortable with, and if what you began was a valuable connection, the customer will be more than happy to give you credit for that.



I have experienced the benefits of this firsthand.  I had a customer reach out because he and another person were approached to purchase a hotel.  For context, neither guy had ever owned or worked in a hotel.  After they were approached about the idea, they gave me a call to see what I knew as well as to know how a bank would analyze the transaction.  After covering a lot of the standard things like LTV and DSCR, I offered to have them meet a contact of mine.  Lucky for me, I knew someone who not only had a lot in common with these guys, but he also owned a hotel.  Let me tell you a bit about this network contact, he was not just any business owner, he was one of the premier businessmen of Southern Minnesota, and at this point in his career he was embracing the sage stage where he could share his experiences with the next generation.  I gave this guy a call, and after negotiating in a free breakfast, he agreed to meet with my customers, and the meeting went great.  My customer came out with notes and perspective they wouldn’t have otherwise had, my network contact got to feel valued because I sought out his advice for these people, and I enjoyed the fact that this connection only occurred because I had recognized the opportunity for it to happen.  Don’t let your hidden superpower go unused.  Find and make those connections.


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