Five Ways to Build a Referral Network with Centres of Influence

"Referrals aren't given easily. If you don't take the time to establish credibility, you're not going to get the referral. People have to get to know you. They have to feel comfortable with who you are and what you do."- Ivan Misner

Your centres of influence (COIs) can be your more profitable sources of referral business, and by reciprocating the referral you create a positive working relationship. Lawyers, accountants, mortgage brokers and realtors are the top COIs, and some advisors even use other advisors with a specialized niche. You need to be proud and confident that when you are giving the name of your COI to your clients, they will be getting the best service possible.

Five ways to build a referral network with COIs are:

1.) Find out exactly what their ideal client looks like.

2.) Meet with your COIs on a regular basis and find out if there are any changes in their business.

3.) Make them part of your events, seminars or newsletters.

4.) Be clear about what your expectations are around referrals.

5.) Thank them for sending you business.

Make the process of giving a referral easy for both you and your COI. Send your client a short email introduction about your COI that states: how you know them, why they will be a benefit, that they will follow up and that they are being carbon copied in the email. Having an email with all the contact information makes it easier for all involved.

It takes time to build a solid group of COIs because you need to find the ones that are the best fit for you. Make sure that you are not too hasty and talk to several professionals in each area. A top-tier COI will be someone who feels that referrals are beneficial to both of you, and will be happy to send you as many as you send him or her.

Rosemary Smyth, MBA, ACC, is a columnist and an international business coach for financial advisors. She spent her career working at leading investment firms before pursuing her passion for coaching. She lives in Victoria, BC. Visit her website at www.rosemarysmyth.com 

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