How to build a COI network

In the financial advisory business, client referrals are important, but so are referrals from centers of influence (COIs)—the attorneys, accountants and other professionals who also serve your clients. In fact, a well-developed, reciprocal network of COIs can bring in many more clients and help you keep your existing ones.

So, how do you find good COIs you can trade referrals with? Follow these steps to create a powerful COI network:

Step 1: List Each COI Your Clients Are Working With
When you work with clients, you’re bound to end up interacting with other professionals also working with those clients. Write down each COI’s name, company, the type of COI (attorney, CPA, etc.) and the name of the client. Once you’ve listed this information, reach out to these COIs and discuss how you can help each other gain and serve more clients.

Step 2: List Each COI In Your Professional Network
Who are the accountants, attorneys and other people within your network? Are you optimizing your professional relationships with them? Add them to your list of potential COIs and bring them into your network.

Step 3: List Each COI in Professional Associations You Belong To
Are you a member of your local chamber of commerce or another professional association? List potential COIs in these organizations and make them a part of your network.

Step 4: List Each COI In Your LinkedIn Network
Are you on LinkedIn? Which COIs are you connected to directly, and which ones are you connected to via other people? Ask the people connecting you to them to make introductions.

Step 5: Do a Web Search and Find a COI You Can Work With
If you’re thin on potential COIs, do a web search of accountants, attorneys and other influencers in your area. When you find a COI who you think would be a good fit, develop a relationship.

A productive reciprocal relationship is not something that develops overnight. Studies show that it takes, on average, two years of building trust before a COI begins referring clients. However, through hard work and relationship development, you may eventually enjoy a steady stream of new clients through your COI network. When this happens, all your effort will have (literally) paid off.