When it comes to creating a COI network, some Advisors actively track the names of other professionals in their clients’ orbit, from accountants to lawyers, mortgage brokers and real estate agents. Here, again, it’s important to be thoughtful and intentional about the objectives of the relationship. Do you want to create a two-way street that’s mutually beneficial? If so, ask them upfront about their policy, and send two to three referrals their way as a show of good faith before asking for any in return.
If the relationship requires more nurturing, feel free to offer additional context about your business. With greater information about your personal history, service model and investment philosophy, they may feel more comfortable identifying clients that would be a good fit for your practice.
By contrast, implementing a referral plan for clients is quite easy. At the start of each meeting there is usually time for unstructured conversation. The field of topics is wide open, and you can go in any direction. You can talk about markets, family, politics, sports, life – or you can spend a few minutes on your business. Think about it: If they ask how you’re doing, you can casually reply that your business has actually been growing as clients continue to recommend you to their friends and family. You can, in other words, deliberately plant the seed for more referrals by using that time more efficiently.
A common mistake is keeping referrals as the last agenda item on your list. By the time you reach that point in the meeting, everyone is eager to wrap up, so rather than waiting till the end you should mention the subject briefly at the top of the discussion and circle back afterwards. With the first pass, you’re clearly indicating that your business operates on word of mouth, and laying the groundwork for a more direct request later in the conversation.