Successful financial advisors understand the value of networking with members of their client’s financial team — Centers of Influence (COIs). They’ve developed a plan to reach out to COIs and to educate them about the services and products they provide. They know how to turn introductions into relationships. As a result, advisors’ businesses grow exponentially because the COIs provide valuable referrals to them.

The question then becomes: “How do you build networking relationships with COIs when so many advisors are trying to work with the same people?” Here are four questions to ask yourself:

  1. Why should a COI refer business to me?
  2. What makes me unique when compared to other professionals in my occupation?
  3. How can I help a COI’s clients?
  4. What’s in it for the COI?

The answers to these questions are the keys to building a vast network of COIs. The first four questions may seem random, but in fact, they’re tied together. What’s your answer to the first question? Here are responses we’ve heard: “Because I’m good at what I do.” Or, “No one will treat the referral better.” Our favorite (excuse my sarcasm): “Because we offer a great product and/or service.”

Look at your responses and ask yourself, “What would my competition say differently?” Would they say they are terrible at what they do and that they treat referrals poorly? Would they say they offer an inferior product and their service is lacking? Of course they wouldn’t. Experience has taught us they say the same glowing things about themselves as you do. You need to search deeper within yourself to uncover your true value.

Questions two and three really define who you are and why someone should refer business to you. How are you unique? Most importantly, what will you do for their clients? Think of several examples of how you’ve helped clients with special problems. Start with what the scenario looked like before you met the client, the process you went through to identify opportunities for improvement, and what you specifically did to improve their financial situation. Be prepared to discuss the benefits you provided, such as financial savings, increased profit, decrease in risk, etc.

Question four, “What’s in it for the COI?” can be the toughest of all because each COI is unique. If you’re able to refer business back to them, it’s a big win. But what if you aren’t in a position to refer business? Underpromise, overdeliver, and by all means prove to them that you will help their clients. By providing superior client service, you will make the COI look good for referring you. Identify ways you can add value to their business. Only by getting to know them and their goals will you have the ability to impact them deeply and reciprocate powerfully.


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