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Who Are Centers of Influence, Anyway?

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If you woke an insurance agent in the middle of the night and asked: “Who are Centers of Influence?” they would likely shout out: “Lawyers and accountants” then go back to sleep. True, but are there any others out there?

1. People who advise others.

That’s why attorneys and CPAs top the list. Pastors and religious leaders would also fall into this category. Although the person approaching them isn’t paying for their advice, they are often seen as someone who helps others.

In most of these cases, the person asked needs a “safe set of hands” when they send them to someone who might be able to help. You want to be that “safe set of hands” or at least one of the several options they will suggest.

2. People selecting speakers for groups.

Many local organizations feature speakers at regular meetings. Your alumni luncheon club is one example. Service clubs are another. What about homeowners associations that need to provide a full calendar of events? This is tougher than it sounds.

If they rely on their own contacts, they can run out pretty quickly. They also need to have a “Plan B” last minute cancellations or weather events leaves them without a speaker. They will be wary of people selling, so educational topics would probably get a better reception. Provide a list of topics you can address. You will need 15, 30 and maybe a 45 minute version of each, because you are conforming to their timetable.

3. Realtors.

These are people who know about “money in motion.” If someone is downsizing, selling their grand home and moving into a townhouse, there’s likely money left over after the move. They will also know who is new to the area and needs referrals for professional services. They may also know who is selling a business, since part of their practice might be in commercial real estate. How many realtors do you know?

4. Development staff at nonprofits.

This is a different sort of situation. They know their big donors. They have plans to ask for more money. They won’t volunteer their names, but that’s not necessary! They put up plaques. They are listed as event sponsors. They are in a position to provide introductions if you also belong to the organization and write checks. They can walk you over at the next gathering and get the conversation started.

5. Officers at special interest clubs.

Let’s assume you know the president of the local sports car club. Maybe it’s even more specific, like the local Porsche club. There are different kinds of Porsches. Some are worth many times the value of another because of their rarity. Some members might own one. Others own several.

Your friend the local president can tell you about people’s collections, allowing you to draw inferences about their relative wealth and disposable income. If you are a member, you have an interest in common. Car clubs are only one example. This should work for wine clubs and other hobbies too.

What’s the common thread? All these people have one or more of these three abilities. The might refer you. They might introduce you. They might tell you about people, allowing you to draw your own conclusions.

— Read 10 Ways to Tactfully Get Your Point Acrosson ThinkAdvisor.

Bryce SandersBryce Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. He provides HNW client acquisition training for the financial services industry. His book, “Captivating the Wealthy Investor,” can be found on Amazon.


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