Building a network of professionals as a way to acquire new clients means more than handing out cards to estate attorneys, accountants and financial planners. Those who are most successful at employing this strategy in their practices do more than network at cocktail parties; they create a trusted circle of resources who share ideas to help each other become more successful.
For your circle of professionals, that means getting to know how they work and what matters to them and their clients. Just like you want something out of the relationship, you need to be prepared to provide value to them.
If that sounds like building a business partnership, you’re understanding how this can work. Just like building an internal team of partners, the better you get to know your external team, the more you will be able to do for them. Your role in this relationship is to find ways to become a resource they turn to when their clients need it.
Here are tips for building and nurturing a network of professionals who can enhance your practice:
- Create a plan for each professional you want to connect with. Each professional will have a different slice of the clients you seek. Estate attorneys, for instance, will typically deal with high-net-worth individuals who have complicated needs, a perfect fit for insurance products you can talk to them about. For each professional, you will need to show them you know how you can fit into their practice.
- Create ways to connect with your network professionals on a regular basis. This can be a phone call or email to check in – you should ask them how they want to be contacted. One strategy is the face-to-face meeting, an underrated strategy in this age of email, texting and phone calls.
- Create content for your networks’ communications and publications. Most professionals have newsletters they use to keep their clients informed and engaged. You can provide content about your specialty that can be valued content and save them the need to fill out the newsletter themselves.
- Offer to be a speaker for their client events at no charge to them. This is another way to add value to your relationship while establishing yourself as a potential resource to their clients. These events should never be used to sell their clients; the strategy of establishing yourself as a resource means never using overt selling to their clients. You are a trusted resource.
- Timing is everything: In getting to know their business, you will know to connect with them at a time that is convenient and optimal to them. That means, not contacting them during their busiest times of the year like tax season for accountants and CPAs and year-end for estate attorneys. Call them at the wrong time and you risk alienating them forever.
- Paint the picture for them of the ideal client. Often, it takes a few tries to establish the best working relationships. Once you find success, it becomes easier to duplicate and demonstrate what kind of value you can provide.
- Always say thank you for their referrals, their support and their friendship. Of all the business skills, this may be the most neglected. Show your genuine appreciation for anything they do for you and work hard to earn the same response from them.