The start of a new year is a traditional time for setting goals. Perhaps you have decided to focus on expanding your network this year in an effort to grow your business. A good place to start is your centers of influence.
Often financial advisors focus on building relationships with accountants and attorneys. While these contacts can be an excellent starting point, depending on your specific business, they should not be the only professionals in your network.
The first step in identifying your ideal centers of influence is to take a look at your business. Who is your target market and what are their needs? For most advisors, a niche emerges over time as they find themselves drawn to certain clients or personal connections. Increasingly advisors are starting firms with a focus on a particular target client and they develop expertise and a business model that best serves those clients.
Once you’ve identified your target client and their needs, you can consider the centers of influence to add to your network. Start with traditional centers of influence, such as attorneys and accountants, but focus your attention to accounting and law firms that work with your target client. For example, if you work with affluent families, look for attorneys and accountants who specialize in complex estate planning. If you work with entrepreneurs, look for attorneys and accountants who work with clients on setting up and running a business. As you network with accountants and attorneys, consider that most financial advisors go this route and you have a better shot at getting referrals from these sources if you stand out with a very specific niche.
It can also be helpful to think “outside the box.” What other professionals play an important role in your client’s lives? Below are several “out of the box” centers of influence to consider.
- If you work primarily with executives, especially those who are making changes in their careers, consider building relationships with business or life coaches and executive recruiters. These people often work with executives, especially those who are considering or making a career or life change.
- If you enjoy working with retirees, think about contacting the general managers of active adult communities and assisted living centers. Many retirees are downsizing from larger homes to active living communities. They also might be interested in assisted living options, either for their parents or for themselves.
- If you work with newlyweds, add wedding planners and marriage counselors to your network. Perhaps they would be interested in mentioning your firm if they are talking with their clients about financial matters.
- If your focus is on affluent families, consider high-end real estate agents, bankers, and jewelers. These professionals serve the needs of the affluent and often become trusted confidants.
Expanding your network is an excellent way to gain exposure and grow your firm. By including “out of the box” centers of influence in your network, you can increase the number of opportunities to work with your target client.