Forever Giving but Never Getting?

What happens when you give and give and give, and get nothing in return?

Recently, I was talking with an advisor who had all but given up on building referral relationships with local professionals. When I asked why, he recounted a story of a CPA he’d tried to work with last year. The CPA was close by. He had set up a coffee meeting. He thought the meeting had gone really well — he really liked the guy, had been making a lot of small talk, just finding out about the guy’s family, and why he lived in the area, why he liked the area. But that was about it.

When I asked him what specifically he had mentioned to be clear about what he was hoping to develop with this relationship, really nothing had happened. In fact, even he admitted he’d been really vague and then said, “I didn’t say a thing like that.”

This is language that’s really important for you to communicate with the professional you’re wanting to build a relationship with. We cover language like this in our Fiduciary Foundations course at Ash Brokerage. If you want to find out details about that course, just email me [email protected]. This is a module we focus on specifically because it’s so important that you use the right language to clarify what you’re looking to develop with another professional.

For instance, you have to ask the question, “Do you refer business to any other advisors in the area?” And if they say yes, that’s fine. Don’t panic. You need to take time to build a relationship with them. Understandably, this might take a little while, but it’s worth the effort, especially if they start referring business to you. But if they don’t, you need to address the issue at hand and figure out what you need to do to get the relationship going as best as you can so that it’s a reciprocal relationship and you’re benefiting from working with each other. So,

  1. Be clear about what you want. In that first meeting (and maybe it turns into a second coffee meeting), be clear about looking for a great relationship.

  2. Ask them if they’re referring business to an advisor, and if they are, that’s fine. Again, be patient. You’re looking to win them over.

  3. If you have referred two, maybe three clients to them and are getting nothing in return, it’s time for that talk. You need to connect with them again and ask them, or clarify with them, “I sent you Mary Smith, Joe Blogs and Susan Adams, and I’m just wondering, it sounds like that’s gone well for you and them. Tell me, are you thinking of me relative to working with any of your clients in any advisory capacity?” You’ve got to put it on the table.

You’ve got to get clear with them if they are going to refer business to you, because if they’re not, you need to stop sending them your clients and start developing a relationship with somebody else local in your area, who’s going to help you grow the business in exactly the way you need to: working with ideal clients, setting up a reciprocal relationship where you can not only receive clients from them, but you can help your clients by sending them their way.

Related: Do Your Small Clients Want Big Attention?