Having good referral partners in the financial entrepreneur industry can help you build your confidence as well as your business. When you have another well-connected individual out there selling your services every day to the people they know, you can easily double or triple the number of clients you bring in and greatly expand your sphere of influence. However, finding those ideal referral partners—and more importantly, making sure you’re giving just as much or more than you’re receiving—is not the easiest task. If you believe that developing a strong network of referral partners is key to your business (and you should), here are some tips on how you can develop mutually beneficial relationships with the right partners to help your firm flourish.
Don’t Look in All the Same Places
It can be difficult to find a good referral partner who hasn’t already been approached by dozens of other financial planners. If you stick with blind tradition and continue to search for partners at familiar networking groups or industry meetings, you’re unlikely to find a diamond in the rough. One of the first steps to developing great partners is finding ones you trust and who you’re completely comfortable referring to others. You may find these in unexpected places—such as from your sister-in-law who works as a divorce attorney—or you may have to get into seemingly oddball groups where none of your competition are members. The point is, if you go lookin’ for love in all the wrong places, you won’t ever find that ideal relationship.
Make Expectations Clear
One of the easiest ways to fail in a referral relationship is by not making expectations clear from the beginning. Once you’ve found someone who you believe would make a good referral partner, sit down with him or her and clarify your expectations. If he’s just looking for a new buddy to meet for a beer on Friday afternoon and you’re expecting him to refer you three new clients a month, the relationship is doomed from the beginning. Though your relationship may evolve over time, setting expectations early ensures that no one feels slighted or overly responsible down the road.
Don’t Take Things Personally
If you’re an advisor with emotional agility, you’ve gotten good at stepping out of your feelings and looking at situations from a place of detachment. Just like with any other relationship, your referral partner may disappoint you or not follow through or do any other number of things to hurt your feelings. The key is to not take it personally. Take a step back and look at the situation for what it is. Did you not make expectations clear? Does your partner simply have a different style of communication? Once you analyze it from a place of detachment, you can more accurately decide if the issue needs addressed or if you can let it go and move forward.
Practice the Platinum Rule
Every good businessperson knows you need to give as well as receive if you’re going to keep a referral partnership going. However, I think you should take that one step further. Instead of practicing the golden rule of treating your referral partner the way you’d like to be treated, try instead using your curiosity to learn more about your partner and finding out what help they’d like to receive from you. For example, maybe he or she doesn’t really want new clients like you do and would prefer instead to receive financial planning advice in exchange for referrals. When you automatically assume your partner wants the same thing out of the relationship as you do, you could miss some valuable opportunities or even sink the partnership before it really gets started.
Building your entrepreneurial financial planning firm is not a solitary endeavor. You need the help of others, including good referral partners, to take your business to the next level and make your seven figure dream a reality. By using the above four tips, you can find the right partners and do the work necessary to make sure those relationships stay strong.
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