Networking with centers of influence outside the financial profession is an important aspect of any advisor’s career. We all have our unique areas of knowledge and expertise, and using these mutually beneficial relationships to provide outstanding service should be top of mind to all advisors.
As advisors, we offer a wide range of knowledge in the creation, management and transfer of wealth. While these skills are very valued by clients, we must remember that other professionals have other areas of expertise that could be better suited for a different aspect of a client’s life. Beginning by asking your clients who plays a major role in other facets of their decision-making is a great way to start a joint effort in providing excellent results all around. Whether your client works with a trusted lawyer, accountant or any other professional, it is extremely vital to establish strong relationships with these individuals in order to work together as a team on your client’s behalf.
When working with other professionals, it is important that advisors communicate the value they bring to the table and the expertise they offer. Advisors are problem solvers when it comes to providing clients with stable financial plans, and combining this knowledge with a well-rounded pool of resources through head-office specialists will undoubtedly result in an effective network. One important thing to remember is to steer clear of presenting a sales pitch about your firm and investment returns. Make sure to keep the emphasis on your clients and their desired results.
Nurturing relationships with other professionals is similar to developing relationships with clients. Your goal should always be to stay top of mind. Taking any opportunity to mail a handwritten card along with an article or something of interest is of utmost importance. Reaching out via social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, is also a good way to connect and stay in touch.
With permission, add centers of influence to your newsletter or blog mailing list. Adding their contact information and a summary of their business will allow your clients to see that working with you will also open doors to working with individuals in other professions.
Any materials that leave your office should look professional and have your contact information included, along with designations and any associations you are involved with. For example, as a Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) member, I believe the involvement in this association distinguishes me from other financial advisors.
Professional association affiliations add an immense amount of credibility when dealing with both clients and centers of influence. Adding such a logo to business cards, marketing materials or an email signature will set you apart from others in your business. While not everyone may be familiar with industry-specific organizations, they will most certainly be curious and get a sense of your commitment to the financial services industry.
One item I like to send out to centers of influence is an annual term insurance rate sheet with various age bands and amounts of coverage. By laminating this sheet, you provide a tool that is professional-looking and valuable. For example, I could send this sheet to a lawyer I had recently met at a chamber of commerce meeting. When one of the lawyer’s clients comes to him about a need for mortgage insurance, the lawyer, knowing my unique area of expertise, could refer the client to me for insurance purposes.
Another thing centers of influence will find helpful is a kit containing documents they can share with others. I put together an annual survival kit with materials such as tax planning documents, will-planning workbooks, budget planners, market overviews and anything else I find may be helpful to this person. You can even mail multiple copies, allowing the recipient to pass some out to clients.
Fostering relationships with centers of influence is more similar to connecting with clients than we realize. Acting professionally, being prompt in our responses and considering their needs will ensure you make meaningful connections.
As I stated before, you must remember to present yourself as a resource to both your clients and other professionals. Protecting your brand is perhaps the most important thing you can do as an advisor. We are our own brand, and our brand should state that if a particular client or individual outside our profession comes to us, we will take care of him.