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           Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about Creating Yourself                         - George Bernard Shaw

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Developing Centers of Influence

Developing Centers of Influence

If I told you that the essence of business is building long-term, mutually-beneficial relationships, you'd say that this was nothing new; you've heard it a hundred times before.

But if I asked you what your plan was to Develop Centers of Influences, I'll bet most of you would draw a blank. Sadly, most business relationships just happen, they are not built intentionally and systematically.

Your development and implementation of a relationship-building strategy based on centers of influence marketing is not only important, it is the key to ongoing success.

And the best business relationships are with business people known as "Centers of Influence." These are business people who are well established, are good networkers and who can lead you to the kind of clients you are looking for. You want to be in the network of several Centers of Influence. Then you want to become the Center of Influence. Did you know that 64% of marketers today work with 10 or more influences on every campaign? Not only that, it has been shown that referrals from Centers of Influence show a 20% more profitable or higher net-worth contact than from client referrals.

But how do you find and connect with these people? Here's an Action Plan that work to developing centers of influence.

     1.  Define your values

What value can you offer these Centers of Influence? Sure, they could help you get access to your ideal clients, but what do you bring to the table? What skills, contacts, information or resources do you have? Make a comprehensive list. This is an important and valuable exercise. By knowing who you are you can identify who you want in your life. Nothing causes more stress than not being true to yourself. It is often good to do this with someone else who knows you well and you trust. 

     2. Target your Centers of Influence

Who can you help to grow their business and then hope that they help you grow your business - that is, lead you to good potential clients? Consultants, attorneys, real estate agents? Write down a list of your ideal contacts and a brief profile for each.  i.e., "Management Consultants in high tech who have clients in the fortune 500." What characteristics do you want them to have, what lifestyle, business ethics, reach, business philosophy?

It’s not enough to go to all business mixers and network opportunities that you can, be selective, you can easily spend a lot of time and money chasing down the wrong people. Don’t overlook your customer list. Tell them that you respect their opinion and you need their help. Ask them to introduce you to people they respect and do the same for them. This makes for a great win-win and gives you another touch point with your client.

 

     3. Points of contact

Where do your Centers of Influence congregate? Do they belong to specific professional organizations or business groups? Can they be found in online communities?

Do your existing networking contacts know these people? As mentioned before, a great place to start is with your client list. Another place I look is by seeing who the best person in your field in your city is? Then I look for the best person in the province/state, national, and finally internationally. We all have heard that highly successful people like to give back. You have nothing to lose by contacting these people and starting a conversation. Then branch out of your field and look to accountants, lawyers, realtors, mortgage brokers, insurance agents, your bankers, and anyone else that would know a lot people. These people know lots of people and are happy to be of service to you. 

     4. Assemble your information

If you're going to approach Centers of Influence, what materials will you use to put your best foot forward? Do you have a web site that looks credible and professional? Do you have a few "Core Issue Articles" that outline your expertise? You need to be ready with this material when you make contact. Ask them to offer their input on your business card, written material, and website. I often use my group to give me advice on my advertising and marketing ideas and plans.

If you have client stories and successes share them. Don’t be afraid to show some of your failures as well and ask what they would have done. This is no time to hide behind a positivity mask, be real, be honest, and be open. Invite a group of them to lunch and that will help them grow their circle. Discuss what would help them and then discuss your materials. An investment like this will pay many dividends.

 

     5. Put out the word

An introduction to a Center of Influence will always trump a cold contact. Let those in your current network know who you are looking for. Send an email or letter and follow up with a telephone call. Then ask, "Who do you know who..." Then get their advice on the best way to approach this Center of Influence.

You can also do a search for the type of business people you want on the web in your area and see who comes up highest in their respective field.  Higher up the list, they are, the more effective they are. Naturally, you can go to your local Chamber of Commerce, Service clubs, and active BNI (Business Network International) groups.

Also, think out of the box. Tom Peters loved to say that every team needs to have people from the various levels of the organization, people with different backgrounds, different ethnic groups, and different style s of approaching things. 

     6. What's in it for them?

When you gain access to a Center of Influence, what are you going to propose? You can't just say "Here I am, please send potential clients my way." You need to have a compelling reason (also called Value Proposition) for them to associate with you. What exactly are you offering and what do you want them to do?

Naturally, you will provide them with leads and be their number 1 fan. You will be faithfully communicating their expertise to others. Any new ideas, products, or strategies that surface that will be of help to them, you will share immediately. Most importantly, you will never do, say, or treat a referral your way that will embarrass them. 

     7. Stay in touch system and Reward your Centers of Influence

Once you've made contact and have established the foundation for a relationship with a Center of Influence, you need to keep your ideas and value in front of them. How will you do that? An eZine, personal mailings, telephone calls or in-person get-togethers? Thank them immediately with any referral they send you. Let them know how fast you responded and the outcome. A handwritten thank you card with chocolates, flowers, or even a cheque to them or their favourite charity will go a long way to strengthen your relationship.

I have worked with clients who have developed relationships with just two or three good Centers of Influence who have brought them hundreds of thousands in new business. With a focused, intentional plan you could be doing the same.

 

 

Chuck Groot’s CPA, MPA, MBA credentials as an author, teacher, business coach and entrepreneur are noteworthy. His clients credit their success to his uncanny ability to get right to the root of any challenge that they put in front of him.  He credits his success to his clients and their willingness to being open to new ideas and desire in pursuit of excellence. 

As an entrepreneur, his enthusiasm and innovative approach have garnered him both professional success and the recognition of his peers. But his greatest delight is being able to share these skills with others and enabling them to be successful on their own.

http://www.chuckgroot.com

I would really like to hear what you think about this article. Drop me a line and let me know how you feel about it?

 

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