A network of centres of influence (COIs) can be a great source of referrals, but only if you’ve made the right connections.

A COI network is “simply another stream of prospects that can be converted to clients,” says Sylvia Garibaldi, a business-building coach with SG and Associates in Toronto. “It really is a strong referral source when done properly.”

Yesterday’s article outlined a few ways to find the right COI to partner with. Follow these tips to make sure that partnership remains strong:

> Join forces
Seminars can help make COIs an integral part of your business.

Invite a COI to speak as a specialist at your next seminar, says Garibaldi. For example, you could ask a lawyer to talk about estate planning or an accountant to talk about tax issues. As well, look for opportunities to participate in an event put on by one of your COIs.

Being presented as experts to each other’s clients makes it easier for both professionals to offer referrals, further solidifying your relationship.

> Offer information
Become a resource for your COIs.

Demonstrate your expertise to COIs, Garibaldi says, through educational seminars. For example, you could create a session geared toward lawyers and accountants on life insurance and how it relates to estate planning and business succession.

By providing valuable information to these professionals, you help establish your credibility as someone they would confidently refer their clients to.

> Stay in touch
Talk with each of your COIs regularly to keep yourself — and your COI — informed on developments in each other’s business.

Arrange to meet with the COI every two to three months, Garibaldi says, to re-connect and do an update on your business. At the very least, you should talk by phone if you can’t meet face to face.

As well, reach out monthly to the COIs through client communications, such as a newsletter, she says.

> Stay positive
Always maintain a professional demeanour, even if you find that you can’t work with a particular potential COI.

“Demonstrate that you know your stuff, whether or not this is going to be a good connection,” Garibaldi says.

Even if you decide this is not someone that you want to work with, she adds, he or she could recommend someone else.

This is the second in a two-part series on centres of influence.