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Riches Through Relationships: Centers of Influence (COIs)

There is a saying your Network is your Net Worth!  Early in my career as a struggling hairdresser, I faced the challenge of providing for my two daughters as a single mother. I urgently needed clients. I identified five networking groups filled with my ideal, qualified clients and focused on cultivating relationships rather than outright selling.

My approach to business has always been about building meaningful relationships over merely transactional ones. The first step was to identify the Centers of Influence (COIs) that could help propel my business forward. 

Centers of Influence are the key individuals who command respect, hold significant sway, and have an expansive network at their fingertips. They are the movers and shakers, the ones who make things happen. COIs can influence decisions and conversations, helping you discover new opportunities. They have the power to open doors you never imagined.

Aligning with them means aligning with success, as their endorsement or advice can significantly amplify your reach and credibility. When we talk about leveraging COIs, we mean using important relationships to create new opportunities. This can help your business grow in ways you never imagined.

What are Centers of Influence?

To understand COIs, we must first understand what’s at their core. COIs aren’t just connections; they’re channels of opportunity. They are individuals or groups in your network with considerable influence, shaping your career or business path. Picture them as forces pulling potential gains and important partnerships to your company.

The Anatomy of Influence: COIs are key connections linking you to a world of chances. They are trendsetters, leaders, and top professionals who, through their support or kindness, can ignite your journey with opportunities.

A great example of this concept is my friend, Chris Winfield, the owner of Super Connector Media. From the moment I met Chris, it was evident he embodied the essence of a Center of Influence—his entire philosophy revolves around being a super-connector.

During an event, I mentioned my search for a publisher for my new book, “Power Your Profits.” Chris didn’t hesitate; he introduced me to a publisher from Simon and Schuster. This connection quickly resulted in a book deal. Astonishingly, within just two hours, I secured a deal, despite having an agent and holding several meetings with other publishers previously without success. Chris’s recommendation and his role as a super-connector transformed my situation. This leads me to question—was it magic, or was it strategic?

Insights into Everyday Entrepreneurship: A key value I provide to my clients lies in my extensive network of vendors and service providers. Over three decades, I’ve cultivated relationships with professionals who prioritize their clients’ needs, and I take great pleasure in sharing these invaluable resources with my clients. This is yet another way I serve as a Center of Influence (COI).

COIs extend beyond the boardrooms and elite gatherings; they are present in every layer of the business ecosystem. As you review the examples below, you’ll start identifying individuals around you who align with your COI requirements.

  • Local business owners are important in community networks, providing resources and referrals that can help businesses grow in their area.
  • Academic Leaders, through their research and thought leadership, influence the direction of industries and open doors to groundbreaking collaborations.
  • Bloggers and Social Media Influencers can propel a brand into the spotlight with just one post or recommendation.
  • Government Officials and Policy Makers, with their regulatory insights and connections, can serve as pivotal COIs for businesses navigating complex legal landscapes.
  • Finally, Non-Profit Organizations often bridge gaps between corporate entities and community needs, enabling profitable and socially impactful partnerships.

Discovering these COIs in your network will help push your business to unparalleled growth.

How to Create Centers of Influence

Cultivating COIs requires strategic planning, interpersonal skills, and ongoing effort. Building strong relationships with key individuals, understanding their needs, and providing valuable support are effective ways to grow your centers of influence.

Utilize the following steps as a roadmap when establishing these vital relationships:

  1. Scout the Landscape: Begin by analyzing the business landscape for potential COIs. Those who share parallel goals without conflicting interests are ideal candidates.
  2. The Courtship Dance: Initiating a professional relationship with a COI is like a courtship. Attention, appreciation, and collaboration are your currencies.
  3. The Offering: What do you offer? A symbiotic relationship with a COI benefits both. Present a proposition that emphasizes their pivotal role in something groundbreaking.
  4. Nurturing the Bond: Regular contact, offers of assistance, and showing your value within the relationship are essential.
  5. The Golden Rule of Reciprocation: To secure a lasting bond, reciprocate value whenever possible. It could be leads, project collaborations, or knowledge-sharing.
  6. Maintaining the Relationship: Once you solidify the relationship, maintain the momentum. Periodic check-ins, shared successes, and even celebratory gestures cement the connection.

Building Two-Way Trust

Relationships revolve around trust. Establishing a foundation of mutual trust and reliance is paramount for a successful partnership.

Here’s a closer look at how we can nurture and strengthen this trust to create a lasting and impactful collaboration.

  • Authenticity is Your Best Strategy. A foundation of honesty and integrity in all your dealings sets the tone for a trustworthy relationship. Always keep your word and never overpromise.
  • Transparency is Key. Disclose your intentions and keep your COI abreast of any developments. This not only builds trust but also empowers them with the knowledge to act in your favor.
  • Actions Speak Louder. You demonstrate trust not just through verbal agreement, but through your actions. Deliver on your commitments, big or small, regardless of the context.
  • Cultivate Mutual Respect. A true COI relationship is a partnership of equals. Treat your COIs with the respect and regard their status deserves, and in turn, expect the same from them.

Choosing the Right COI for You

Not all influential people have the same impact. To succeed, your partnerships should align closely with your business goals and objectives. Navigating and evaluating choices becomes simpler with a guiding light.

I sign up for high-end programs not only for their content but for the clients that will be in the room.  Leveraging all aspects of the course and relationships. 

Use these three checkpoints as a beacon to assist in your decision:

  • Alignment of Purpose: Pick COIs whose goals align with, yet do not encroach upon, your own. Mutual purpose breeds harmonious collaboration.
  • Assessing Impact Potential: Choose COIs who will increase your opportunities. Think in terms of quality over quantity.
  • A Stellar Reputation: Partner with COIs with a reputation you aspire to embody. Their endorsement can be the lynchpin your career needs for catapulting into a higher orbit.

How COIs Influence Your Bottom Line

Centers of influence can have real financial effects. These important groups shape market trends and what people buy, leading to actual profits for companies.

Let’s see how COIs link influence and financial success with their connections and presence.

  • Diversification of Referral Sources: COIs serve as diversified pipelines for referrals and new business opportunities. Set a goal for yourself at every event you go to on how many connections you will make and connections you will create! 
  • Expanded Horizons: They uncover paths to new markets, industries, or customers that were previously untouched.  I have found my next business partners at events from strategic alliances to business opportunities 
  • Brand Association: A COI’s connection can boost your brand among their community, essentially showing approval of quality.
  • Social Proof in Abundance: A positive endorsement from a COI is the apex of social proof, galvanizing prospects to become clients.

On the back of my book “Power Your Profits,” I utilized social proof from leading influencers in our industry. This strategy was about leveraging those relationships to enhance credibility and gain recognition. 

Conclusion

Building partnerships with Centers of Influence is a necessity that leads to rewards beyond money. It’s time to have that first meeting, hold client events, build connections that were once just ideas, and transform them into a profitable network. Growing an 8-figure business is possible when you master cultivating riches through relationships.

Seize the opportunity to elevate your strategic partnerships with valuable insights gleaned from our comprehensive online course, “Bullet Train to Big Profits.” Learn how to leverage these nuggets of wisdom to unlock growth and success in your business relationships. Get started today!

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