One of the top ways to build your business is through your centres of influence (COI). So, it’s important to treat these relationships with care, says Sara Gilbert, founder of Strategist Business Development in Montreal.
You can do that by taking opportunities to entertain your COI, but advisors should also be looking to make COIs’ jobs easier, according to Gilbert. “They’ll be thankful. What happens when they’re thankful? Your name comes up in a conversation or two,” says Gilbert.
Here are three ways to deepen these relationships:
1. Connect different COIs with each other
If you want to stay top of mind with these professionals, schedule a lunch every single Friday with one or more of them, says Gilbert.
These lunches aren’t just an excuse for a good meal: they are also a chance for you to connect COIs who could benefit from one another’s expertise.
Maybe a real estate agent in your network could use some help with a client who is looking for property in the United States. She needs to know more about cross-border tax issues. This is a chance for you to introduce her to the accountant you work with who specializes in this very complex topic.
This is likely to make both COIs appreciate your efforts.
2. Be a resource
Impressing a COI can be as simple as being available to answer questions that relate to the interests of a mutual client.
It may sound basic, but being prompt about returning a COIs’ phone calls about such clients can make a significant difference, says Francis Sabourin, an advisor with Richardson GMP Ltd. in Montreal.
Sabourin says COIs have called him, frustrated that a client’s financial advisor is not returning the COIs’ calls about that client’s investment portfolios. Those same COIs tell Sabourin they want to refer their clients to him instead, because they know he is dependable and quick to provide responses to queries.
Another way to be a resource is to provide easily accessible reference documents that answer common questions about investment management and products. These can help COIs navigate their way through typical interactions with their clients.
For example, if you are connected to an accountant that works with many entrepreneurs, says Gilbert, create a one-page document that explains some basic details on individual pension plans.
3. Be thoughtful when they’re busy
During the tax season, Sabourin visits his accountant COIs and brings pastries, coffees and fruit baskets to them and their team members. This allows him to acknowledge how hard they work and provide everyone with a little break to enjoy a few treats, he says.
This suggestion can be applied to any COI who has a heavy workload. Maybe a lawyer you know informed you that she and her team are working overtime on a complicated land-transfer case. Why not bring her and her staff some edible reinforcements that they can enjoy on the spot?
These COIs will be happy to see a gesture that doesn’t come with strings attached.