Cultivating a network of centres of influence increases your chances of being referred. However, you must be willing to make the effort to maintain those relationships.

When you let relationships with COIs fall through the cracks, says Joanne Ferguson, president, coach and consultant with Advisor Pathways Inc. in Toronto, you start missing opportunities to grow your business.

Yesterday’s BYB Daily highlighted some common mistakes you can make that can derail a relationship with a COI. Here are four more missteps you need to watch out for when working with a COI:

1. Thinking it’s a short-term strategy
A COI network isn’t something you can create in a day.

Good relationships with COIs that generate referrals are based on trust, says Julie Littlechild, president of Advisor Impact Inc. in Toronto, and that just doesn’t happen overnight.

“It’s one of those strategies, not unlike client referrals,” she says, “that involve building the right network [and] nurturing those relationships over time.”

2. Excluding your team
Show the COI the strength of your business by involving team members in the relationship.

A connection with a COI is not an “I” relationship, says Ferguson. You don’t have to be the sole contact between the professional and your business.

Having a strong team that the COI can call, she says, demonstrates to the professional that he or she can feel comfortable about the level of service a referral will receive from your business.

3. Refusing to prove yourself
A potential COI may ask for evidence of your professionalism and success.

Some advisors might not like the idea of having to “prove” themselves to a COI, Littlechild says. But professionals should always be cautious about sending referrals.

So, the more you can tangibly demonstrate your level of service, she says, the better. For example, you might offer testimonials to demonstrate your skills and service standards.

4. Cultivating too many connections
Keep your COI relationships manageable by reaching out to only a few at a time.

You should think carefully about the COIs you want to work with, Littlechild says. Advisors with successful COI networks often don’t have more than five professionals on their rosters.

While clients will appreciate having the option of choosing from two lawyers or accountants, Ferguson says, it’s important that those professionals have different skill sets.

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

Part one: Five COI mistakes