‘Tis the season for summer barbecues, pool parties and other social events. Over the next few months you’ll probably attend several such gatherings and, when people learn that you’re a financial advisor, you may be asked your opinion about the market or other financial matters.

How should you handle those queries?

With care, says Rosemary Smyth, a Victoria-based coach for financial advisors.

“The boundaries at social gatherings are very different from those at networking events,” Smyth says. “Social events are about socializing, whereas business is the goal of networking events. It’s important not to confuse the two.”

Smyth recommends that you keep conversations casual at social events, avoiding discussions about historical rates of return or market theories, for instance.

“Your focus should be on what you can do for others,” she says, “rather than on prospecting for new clients.”

Smyth offers the following advice for talking about business at social get-togethers:

> Prepare an “elevator speech” for these situations
It’s wise to have a speech ready specifically for these events in case someone asks your opinion about a company or an investment. For one thing, if you’re unprepared, it’s easy to say something you might later regret.

Says Smyth: “You need a response to questions like, ‘My advisor wants me to invest in a gold mine up north. What do you think?'”

The best reply, Smyth says, is to empower the questioner to sort things out for himself or herself.

“Be professional and respectful of others’ recommendations,” Smyth says. “Never say, ‘That’s a terrible idea.’ Instead, try, ‘I suggest you discuss your goals with your advisor before making any decisions’.”

> Avoid the sales talk
Don’t “pitch” people at social events, Smyth says, despite the temptation to do so.

Avoid talking about specific products and services. If someone is keen to talk shop with you, ask if you can contact them over the next few days to meet for coffee and chat then.

> If asked, have your business card ready
Make sure to keep extra cards on hand in case they’re requested, Smyth says. But wait to be asked.

If you’re too quick with your card, people might think you’re on the prowl.

If you do give a card, make sure to follow up with the person promptly if you say you will.

> Don’t over-indulge
With cameras on almost every phone and social media literally seconds away, it’s important to consider your reputation when you’re out in public.

“If you’re not careful, you might be tagged and wind up on YouTube,” Smyth says. “And once it’s out there, there’s not much you can do about it.”

Bottom line: have fun but be smart about it.