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Many of the financial advisors I coach are very concerned about wasting their time. But who isn't? Those same advisors want to get more referred business, especially from their networking efforts. No one wants to waste their time if the ROI isn't worth it.

I’ve been teaching advisors how to network strategically since 2005 and have written a Wall Street Journal best-selling book, now published in seven languages, called The 29% Solution on business networking. I can confidently say that some forms of networking produce a higher ROI for referrals than others.

And yes, networking is still happening during COVID-19.

For the purposes of this article, let’s compare two types of networking: external and internal. External networking means connecting with people who are not in your current network. Due to social distancing, this could mean connecting with new people on social media. External networking typically gives a low ROI from the referral perspective but a high ROI from the connection perspective. You'll make many more connections for yourself and for others with your external networking efforts, but you won’t bring in many, if any, referrals for yourself. Don’t get me wrong, external networking can offer enormous value, but not so much when it comes to referrals.

To network for referrals (even now) and save time, practice internal networking. Internal networking is with those already in your network. This kind of networking is efficient, more profitable and deserves more of your time to produce referrals.

Since some of you might think referrals are taboo because of COVID-19, let’s look at how it can be done.