For Successful Leaders… How to Start an Estate Planning Group.
If you want to grow your practice, and get to know the right professionals to assist your valued clients, this is a great opportunity. Estate Planning Group Network (EPGN) has been growing since 2009, and we provide everything you need to make running your own group as easy as possible.
EPGN is different than other networking groups because there is no emphasis on referrals, and we are not limited to one representative of each profession. Instead, we focus on activities where practical and meaningful conversations flow, and natural partnerships occur. Whether virtual or in-person, our meetings are characterized real engagement, bright ideas, and working together to solve our clients’ challenges.
EPGN handles all of the administration; membership and guest payments, attendance reminders, monthly activities, and more. You get to invite the professionals in your community who serve the most vulnerable; the elderly and disabled.
We have provided these guidelines to get you started (Questions? Please click the email link at the bottom of this page)
Select a Co-Leader:
No matter how determined you are, things come up from time to time, so starting with a team approach reduces stress and allows everyone to be successful. Select a Co-Leader who is in a different profession than yours so that your calendars are easy to manage, and you two are not inviting the very same professionals to attend. Hopefully your schedules are a bit different and the life stresses you have are different.
Communication is key, so make sure this is someone with whom you feel comfortable speaking with and who feels as committed to his/her own work as you are. Once you have found the right person, we suggest that you both attend an existing meeting to see how it is run. Chat with the Leaders of that meeting, to be sure about this commitment and to be better prepared for success. If there is not a meeting close enough to visit, we recommend attending a virtual meeting. Our format has been tested for over a decade and it is quite successful.
Identify the right day of the month:
Consider other large networking groups in your area along with the probate court calendar. For instance, if the probate court normally convenes on Mondays, it would be good to select an alternate day when trial attorneys can come to breakfast or lunch. We find that the best days are Tuesdays and Thursdays. There are other estate planning focused groups and others that serve seniors. Ask your closest associates which days are best for them, then select one day a month you can commit to, such as the 3rd Tuesday of every month. Make sure this date works for your venue. We are always dark in December.
Identify the right venue:
Due to COVID, we recognize the challenge in identifying a suitable venue. Some meetings have chosen to meet outdoors. Some meet in the Chair’s conference room. You may choose to arrange for meals, and collect funds from the attendees to cover this expense. You may choose to serve coffee, and no food. The most important thing is to identify what works for you, then be consistent, so your attendees know what to tell prospective guests as to what to expect.
Once you have identified a suitable location and have come to an agreement with management on a monthly day, and time, please contact us to share the contact information of your Co-Chair, and your venue details. Our in-house team will take care of all of the transactions; receiving registrations, tracking membership renewal, and sending out monthly reminder emails to your attendees.
Once your meetings begin, thank you for informing the EPGN team as to how many participants actually attended, anyone who attended who has not yet paid, and sharing email addresses of those you have invited, or would like to remind.
Starting Core Attendees:
Professionals who you know and trust are a great way to get the meeting started. Successful groups usually have a dozen, or so, attendees who attend regularly and who invite new people each month. It may take 30 or more invitations before you have your core dozen.
Utilizing the invitation to the meeting is a great way to introduce oneself to new referral sources, as no direct selling of your product or service is involved. The focus of this invitation is what’s in it for the professional you are inviting; the opportunity to meet other dedicated professionals. Tell the professional there is someone you would like to introduce them to at the meeting. Once the new person attends, then you will have the opportunity to share more about your own business offering. This instruction should be shared with all of your core folks and then with your attendees from time to time to keep the growth of the group going. Getting to know each other, through the planned activities, is an extremely effective way to gain more referrals.
Once you have a co-leader, a monthly meeting day, and a venue, it is time to send out invitations to the meeting. Don’t be discouraged. We are all challenged by adopting new opportunities.
Provide the email addresses of everyone you would like to invite to the EPGN team, and we will send out monthly reminders to register for the meeting via email. Both of the leaders should be inviting 5, or more, new professionals every month. This invitation gives you a reason to talk with new professionals at other networking events, as described above. All of this has been designed to make it easy for you to lead gracefully, and successfully!!
We estimate that the first six months, you may spend 3-5 hours each month, starting with inviting your first attendees. Many leaders with a year, or more, of experience, find their own time commitment drops to the monthly meeting itself, about two hours a month.
We have learned that success as an EPGN Leader requires a minimum two-year commitment, in order for membership momentum to build. It takes some time for the professionals in your community to become aware of your group, and to trust that it will be there when they are ready to join. Encouraging your members to invite guests helps to grow your group, and gets you introduced to more prospects. This is a win-win-win for everyone who attends!!
Sample Meeting Agenda and Activity:
7:00 AM Chair arrives, makes sure signs are up (if any), parking is available and doors are open. If Virtual, Chair makes sure that the technology is working and prepares to “open the meeting” at least 15 minutes before the scheduled start.
7:15 AM Co-Chair checks everyone in (greeting everyone, who is a guest - Networking is happening - If Virtual, Chair and Co-Chair facilitate best use of the technology (individual names are on attendee windows, everyone knows how to use the chat features to share their contact info, etc.)
7:30 AM Chair starts meeting - Ice Breaker Question/Activity/Case Study – Every attendee, whether in-person or virtual, introduces themselves and answers the Icebreaker question. Once everyone has been introduced, Chair invites everyone to look over the activity, and discussion begins.
7:45 AM Group leader encourages attendees to share how they have worked together with a client.
8:00 AM Start of Case study discussion.
8:30 AM End of Activity/Case Study
8:30-9AM Meeting/Networking – Attendees often enjoy chatting for a while longer. Encourage everyone to exchange contact info when you give them the “10 minute warning” at 8:50am.