When I say ‘referral network’, many of your minds immediately jump to formal networking groups. Am I right? Do you equate ‘referral group’ with those that meet every Tuesday at noon and cost $500 a year to join? Now don’t get me wrong, those groups can be highly valuable if you join the right one (and that’s a big IF.) But here’s the problem: there’s a financial advisor in nearly every one of these groups. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever known of a group like this that doesn’t have an advisor in it. That doesn’t mean you can’t get referrals from them if you put in the time and effort, but I’d like you to think outside the box for a moment when deciding how to build your referral network. Wouldn’t it make more sense to go where the other advisors aren’t? To find an untapped market where people are actually looking for the services you provide? It’s out there, I can guarantee you. You just need to find it. When you start to build a referral network, you need to think about two things: what’s personal to you and where your prospects might be ‘hiding’. Let me explain.

What’s Personal to You

Think about your lifestyle and hobbies for a moment. Where do you spend a great deal of free time? Is it at church? Do you go to the gym every morning? Do you coach your son’s ball games like I do? These are all perfect places to build your referral network. I know, I know, a lot of you are hesitant about mixing business with friendships, but you shouldn’t be. If you do it the right way, your relationships will get deeper and more meaningful. Take your son’s ball games, for example. You’re probably there every weekend with a bunch of other dads, right? Conversations start, and it’s only natural to talk about what you do for a living. If you’re being strategic about it and open about what you do (and what sets you apart), you might not only find that some of the families need your services, but that they know a whole lot of other folks do as well. See where I’m going with this?

Where Prospects Are Hiding

Your prospects are not literally hiding, of course, but they could be hiding in plain sight. When advisors limit their referral vision to the ‘usual suspects’ like CPAs or business attorneys, they aren’t seeing the bigger picture. Let me give you an example. I worked with a young advisor who was able to develop a strong relationship with a grief counselor. Don’t see the connection? Well, the grief counselor worked with mainly widows who were mourning the passing of their spouses. Do you know what most widows end up doing after their spouse dies? They move their estate and financial planning to a new advisor. Yep, this young financial planner had stumbled upon referral gold. When developing your referral network, think a few steps out from the direct referral. Think about large companies that are frequently bringing in new executives who’ve had to relocate. Think about retirement communities where residents may need to take look at their estates. Meet with someone in these businesses and find a way to provide them value. That’s when the referrals really start to flow. A strong referral network can be the tipping point for your entrepreneurial financial planning business. When you develop a few different funnels, you’ll find that business growth takes on a life of its own!