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Establishing a Referral Network by Duncan MacPherson
2023-12-12 • 2 minute read

I’ve never been a big fan of the jargon that exists in this space: “Book of business”, “production”, “circle of influence” and “holistic planning”, just to name a few. To me, they speak more to the advisor’s interests, or are simply not intuitive to a client. It’s the lexicon of salesmanship rather than stewardship. I would much rather you refer to your value as being addressed by a panoramic process. To your network of trusted service providers, as a value-added support team. Some might consider that semantics, but I think everything matters and that everything should be client-centered.

Formalizing Your Strategic Partner Process

To that end, I’d like you to consider formalizing how you engage other professionals into your process such as trusted accountants, estate planning attorneys, and real-estate agents to name a few. Rather than simply referring clients out to a different professional, formally create a listing of trusted and vetted professionals. There could be two tiers - core strategic partners that compliment your technical ability as well as others, including clients, who deliver value in a specific area.

Consider this - I’m sure you’ve had clients who have recently opened up to you and bared their soul about things going on in their lives. Good or bad, silver linings or dark clouds, or information about new or rekindled hobbies and interests. Getting into shape, taking better care of themselves. Newly discovered benevolent activities and the like, all the way across the spectrum to relationships, fears and anxieties, even mental health issues. Make a listing of services - not specifically names, but areas of expertise – that focus on those client concerns. A list so you can reach out to those specialists and inform them that you want to create a Value-Added Support Team (VAST) formed from your array of relationships - and to the specialist members of which you could introduce someone where there’s a potential need.

Creating a Value-Added Support Team (VAST)

If they see the merit in being involved, ask them this: “If an opportunity presents itself where I can make an introduction, what would you like me to say? How would you like me to describe you?” Be ready for a lively conversation, punctuated by the same question asked of you, to which you can reply by quickly outlining the strength of your people, the quality of your practice and the panoramic nature of your process. You can even go so far as to exchange introductory kits to bridge intent to actual consent.

When it comes to introductions, stirring the pot like this will create a culture of advocacy and reciprocity and an elevated client experience. You will find yourself with more opportunities to collaborate in terms of events, webinars, and in social media, so that you can be exposed to the first-degree-of-separation relationships. That could be not only your MVPs, but their clients and acquaintances, some of whom could be your future most valuable prospects.

Commitment and Patience

I don’t want to oversimplify this initiative. It requires a logistical process, a commitment and patience. If you stick with the process, you can add value to client relationships, making them deeper and more loyal. You also convert professional relationships into a mutually beneficial two-way street network, where you can be consistently introduced to more entrepreneurs and professionals that closely resemble your ideal client profile. There is an art and science to this, but in the end, giving does start the receiving process.

Continued Success!

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