How do you establish a financial relationship with a bank to grow your small business?
During my business career I frequently borrowed money to help grow one of my companies.
As the VP, legal counsel and GM of the Philadelphia Eagles I met lots of bankers who were very friendly but the minute you were looking to take out a loan—the atmosphere drastically changed.
Here’s what happened to me.
I was looking to find a bank that would lend the Eagles lots of money. ..The banks in Philadelphia had already turned us down so I ended up in Phoenix, Arizona still looking for money.
I had an appointment with a large banking group and was a little intimidated when I arrived at the bank headquarters in downtown Phoenix—and looked up at this huge modern skyscraper covered with large slabs of light blue glass that was illuminated by the sun…it was a very impressive looking building!
I took the elevator to the top floor of the bank where I was to meet 4 of the banks’ top banking officials.
The door to the board room opened and I was ushered in.
I looked around the room to get my bearings and saw four middle aged men seated at a massive mahogany table and was greeted with blank stares and lots of squirming in their seats.
I immediately knew that they were not expecting a woman to represent the football team and I also knew that they were not comfortable talking to me about a big loan .
So here is where it all starts…presenting yourself to a banker…what do you need to do? How do you need to act? How do you show them you should be taken seriously?
Here’s what I did.
I began by walking over to each banker, looking him squarely in his eyes, extending my hand and shaking his hand and thanking him for letting me present my business proposition on behalf of the Eagles. My hand shaking took me all the way around the giant conference table and after shaking each banker’s hand I felt that I needed to say something to break the cool reception I was getting.
I introduced myself and then said, I know you were expecting a man to represent a football team but I want you to know that my dad, who owns the team, always wanted boys too, but he only had girls—so I am my dad’s only son! With that one liner I broke the ice, they chuckled and I went on to present a well planned, thorough and detailed analysis of how the Eagles would pay back the money if the bank agreed to grant the loan. I secured the Bank’s commitment to make the loan that day.
In answer to the question What do you need to do to start a banking relationship?
Do as I did, introduce yourself to as many loan officers as you can in the bank that you use for your personal banking. Identify a banker that you feel you can relate to. Talk to them generally about your business.
Every time you visit the bank go over and say hello to that banker you have picked out and make sure to leave them with something that identifies your company…your business card, a company brochure, or even a sample of your product.
Remember…The more memorable you are…the better chance you have to get your foot in the door….so Be Memorable!
One final point to think about every time you approach a banker –the key to establishing your credibility is to KNOW your business and KNOW yourself.
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