Getting referrals from other professionals can be one of the best ways to grow your business. Those who know how to get their names out in their community networks can see their bottom lines increase with the least amount of time and effort spent prospecting. But there is an art to effective networking, and those who are unable to master this skill may end up finding themselves on the outside looking in.

Here are some tips that will help you to get more and better referrals from your professional colleagues. (For related reading, see: How to Get Referrals.)

  • Give back: A recent survey revealed that attorneys are most fond of working with financial advisors who put on seminars that provide them with continuing education credits. Anything related to estate planning, trusts and estate taxes will most likely qualify for them, but be sure that it will count for them beforehand in order to ensure their attendance—and your future referrals. And because attorneys also like to network in the same manner as you, hosting client or social events that allow them the chance to pass out their cards can increase the level of referrals that you receive from them. In some cases, you might be able to kill two birds with one stone by hosting an estate planning seminar that begins or ends with a cocktail hour. (For related reading, see: Cold Calling vs. Networking.)
  • Keep them involved: Accountants often like to stay involved with the finances of the clients that they refer to advisors. You should make a special effort to keep them updated on the progress of their referrals. It may be wise to add them on as interested parties to their financial accounts so that they can see everything that is going on. This may also expedite the information-gathering process at tax time, as the accountant can have ready access to everything they need to prepare the return.
  • Evaluate your fees: If you get paid solely by commission, then you may have a harder time generating referrals than your fee-based competition. Many attorneys say that they would rather send their clients to advisors who charge either a flat fee or a percentage of assets under management than to someone who works on commission. Holding a fiduciary position and holding professional credentials such as the certified financial planner can also make you more marketable for those who can give you referrals. (For related reading, see: How to Bond With Influencers to Grow Referrals.)
  • Distinguish yourself: Be able to clearly outline what separates you from your competition so that your network will know who to refer you to. This can help to streamline your business building practices and may help you see, from the outset, prospective clients who end up not being a good fit for you. It can also help clients to better decide for themselves whether they want to use you as an advisor.
  • Time is of the essence: If another professional refers a client to you, be proactive in getting back to them. Be sure to thank them for the referral and get with the client immediately if at all possible. This will give your network peace of mind about sending business to you and will also reflect well on them.

The Bottom Line

Attorneys and accountants are two of the best possible sources of referrals that you can have. Bankers, mortgage lenders and property-casualty insurance agents can be other good sources of referrals. But be sure to adequately reward your referral sources with things like CE credits, professional discounts or other incentives that will motivate them to continue sending prospects your way. (For more, see: 7 Popular Marketing Techniques for Small Businesses.)

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