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How to Best Network with COIs

By Patricia Giesbrecht and Kim Poulin

In the September issue of FORUM, the feature “Forging Stronger Alliancesdiscussed working effectively with centres of influence (COIs). Let’s now examine how advisors have implemented COI strategies into their businesses.

COIs may never become clients, but have the ability to introduce advisors to people who can. Reg Braun of Gallery Wealth Management, in Morden, Man., has done a great job of cultivating strategic alliances with both accountants and lawyers in his town and neighbouring towns. He has positioned himself as a resource for farmer and business owner issues, so he mainly gets referrals in those markets to assist with their retirement planning, insurance, and estate planning. There is some reciprocal business, however, it is not quid pro quo. This approach works because Braun understands his ideal client profile.  

On the other hand, Adam Gabrysz of Strategic View Financial in Toronto enjoys social outings with his COIs. He sets up lunches, dinners, and gatherings at his home. These endeavours helped him develop great COIs such as mortgage brokers, and professionals in the property and casualty industry. This approach works because Gabrysz has identified his ideal networking COI.

Below are five more tips on how to best network with COIs.

  1. Seek out people you genuinely like. They are going to be your best connections in the end.
  2. Prepare for skepticism. Building trust with a COI will not happen overnight. It may take several meetings before they provide you with introductions or referrals.
  3. Call a local accountant and schedule a one-hour meeting to discuss their services and ask for their hourly rate. Explain that you want to understand how you can use their services for your clients. Always explain what you do. Leave payment for the hour. Chances are everyone in their sphere of influence will hear about what you did.
  4. Do your COIs know what to say about you? Can they say it in a succinct, persuasive way? Provide a short “script” that helps them explain to their clients what services and value you offer. Leave copies of testimonials from your clients confirming your ability to serve them effectively. The more comfortable you make it for COIs to refer you, the more referrals you will generate.
  5. Create a credentials kit that includes the answers to the eight value questions, and include them in a package you leave with the COI. This “leave-behind” is your story. Make sure it tells a memorable tale while being succinct, professional, and eye-catching.
  6. Practise the reciprocity principle. Don’t think of getting to know COIs as a one-way street to introductions. If you go into it with an attitude of entitlement, your efforts are doomed. See what you can do before you see what you can get.

Patricia Giesbrecht and Kim Poulin are business coaches at The Personal Coach. To comment on this article email dgageforum@gmail.com.

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