Creating a referrable business can cut down on your conversion timeline — the time it takes to convert a prospect to a client — and reduce your marketing efforts, says Michele Soregaroli, co-founder at Transformation Catalyst in Vancouver. But getting referrals is always a challenge.

“Most [clients] are hesitant to refer today because the risk is too high,” Soregaroli says. Clients often feel that they risk their own credibility when they refer a friend or family member to a financial advisor.

If you can reduce that risk by gaining your client’s trust immediately, you’ll be better equipped to generate referrals.

Soregaroli recommends a three-step process for gaining referrals through “subtle influence”: earn, enable and encourage.

“Earn [the client’s trust] first,” she says. “Then, enable people to refer you. And then, encourage them by welcoming and reassuring and fostering referrals.”

Here are three ways to make yourself more referrable:

1. Keep the door open
One of the biggest mistakes financial advisors make is giving the impression that the door is not open for referrals. “[Advisors] may ask for referrals, but their behavior indicates that they are not ready to receive them, or don’t want them,” Soregaroli says.

You can mistakenly give the impression that they’re too busy or too important, making your clients think, “I’m just lucky to be a client,” Soregaroli says.

In an effort to look successful, you can intimidate your clients. For example, if you wait too long to return your clients’ calls, they’ll likely think that you’re too busy to serve new clients.

The best approach is to let your clients know the type of people you most enjoy working with, and the type of business you’re building, so that your clients can help you.

2. Create access points
Develop several channels through which potential and current clients have the opportunity to get to know you better, Soregaroli says.

These channels can be virtual (social media, for example) or in person (seminars and other events). What’s important is to let others connect with you without any pressure to work together. People don’t want to risk being hounded every few weeks to sign on.

Today’s investor is much more skeptical, Soregaroli adds. They’ll want to do their research by viewing your LinkedIn profile or attending a workshop.

3. Develop reciprocal relationships
Exchanging referrals with an expert in your network is often called “cross pollination,” Soregaroli says. For example, you might arrange to refer clients to a lawyer in your network who, in return, refers clients to you.

You can take cross pollination a step further by holding a joint event with that professional. In these cases, the advisor and the lawyer (or accountant) each invite clients who are selected as potential referrals for the other professional.

At your event, your chosen clients serve as built-in testimonials. All you have to do is make sure they meet one another. This is also a very non-threatening way to let potential clients learn more about you.