The Power of Dialect
A dialect is a specific form of language. American English has hundreds of dialects and sub-dialects, and you are probably fluent in several of them. Whichever dialect you choose to speak says a lot about you: where you’re from, what you do; who you associate with. Slang words, for example, belong to a specific sub-dialect.Terms like “rad” or “gnarly,”, you’re probably fluent in what I’ll call Extreme Sports English.
In school, we were all taught what David Foster Wallace calls SWE (Standard White English) in his essay that inspired this piece. SWE is the vernacular of grammar-nerds. Your english teacher’s English. It was invented and popularized by rich white men, and these are the same, powerful people who employ it today–the very people who might call you an ignoramus for employing “ain’t” in casual conversation or saying “me and my friend” instead of “my friend and I.”
The truth is, however, that not a lot of Americans are fluent in SWE. While it’s an extremely useful dialect for writing and communicating with people of power, in everyday speech it can be clunky, overly formal, snobbish, and confusing for non-SWE speakers (of which there are plenty). As financial advisors, your job requires fluency in SWE, as this is the language of people with money. But I’m not concerned with your SWE skills. I’m more concerned with your ability to leverage the sub-dialects that you’re already fluent in to earn new business.
Can You Talk the Talk?
Just as most regions have their own dialect, as do most professions. Legalese, for example, is the language of lawyers. The laguage of finance doesn’t have a funny name, but it’s its own dialect nonetheless. What other interests, hobbies, or groups have their own dialects, and how can you leverage your fluency to earn new business? Finance marketing is all about trust, and sharing an interest-based vernacular builds trust faster than you can imagine. Consider the following excerpt from Financial Planning Magazine:
Chris Storace, CMFC, owner and principal of Storace Wealth in Danville, Calif., is a part of Rick Kagawa’s OSJ. Storace is a younger advisor, an up-and-comer, who just made the Transamerica’s Top Producer’s list for the first time.
Storace courts and works with some of the biggest names in the Mixed Martial Arts community. To earn their trust, Storace attends the fights, the press conferences, and visits athletes at their gyms just to say hello. Of course it doesn’t hurt that he’s ex-military – a Navy man for eleven years. That gives him a lot of credibility and an instant sense of respect. They not only share common interests, values and passions, but a common vernacular.
The hobbies, interests, and activities where you already spend time might be your way in to a new niche of people who could use professional advice.
Leveraging Language To Find New Business
We all have hobbies. What I’m suggesting is that you stop thinking about all those hours spent reading/watching/working, the hours spent at conferences/events/games/meetups/clubs, and all of the dialects that, over time, you’ve become fluent in as a waste of time. Think of it as business development.
Some interests will have a greater chance of earning you your next client, and those are the ones that you ought to focus on. Golf, boats, and cigars, for example, are hobbies that, by nature, are suited to wealthier people, which consequently might be more worth your time and effort, than say, model trains, rock climbing, and comic books. But who knows, there are people in need of financial advice all over the place. It’s up to you to find them, and if you can talk the talk then that’ll put your foot in the door.