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Have you ever asked yourself, “Am I a good COI?” If you were giving yourself a grade, what would it be? Better yet, if you asked your COIs to give you a grade, what would they say?

As a referral and business coach for financial advisors, I have quite a bit to say about COI relationships. The topic of COIs comes up a lot with slight variations and twists. You can find more articles from me on this topic here at Advisor Perspectives.

Typically, your conversations involve how to get the COI to perform better. Rarely does the conversation start by looking inward to ask oneself, “How can I be a better COI?” I’m here to tell you that in order to attract and keep good COI relationships, the first thing you’ve got to do is be willing to be a good COI yourself.

Let’s take a look at four specific things that you can do to be a better COI and thereby influence the relationship with your own enhanced performance:

1. Learn how best to introduce your COI. I find that all too often people assume that because they know what someone does, they automatically know how to introduce them to others. Don’t assume you know how to introduce your COI. Ask him or her how best to introduce them to people you know. They may have specific words you should or should not say and some words that pique someone’s interest right away. They may even have a preferred way for being connected to new prospects.

One advisor I coached, Mike, worked mostly with male CEOs and preferred to be connected to someone in his cigar club. He knew that it took 45 minutes to smoke a cigar and that during that time, he could have a meaningful conversation with someone. He also knew that they would not be interrupted, as people leave you alone in a cigar club. Your COI may have a preference like this and you will find out if you ask.

2. Distribute their information. Look for regular opportunities to promote your COIs. Maybe they have a great post on their blog that you could pass along to your network. Maybe they wrote a wonderful article that you could include in your newsletter or forward to a dozen clients. Maybe they have a virtual event coming up that you could share with your friends and family. The caveat here is that when you promote your COI, make an extra effort to ensure that they know what you’ve done on their behalf, so that they can see the value you’re bringing to the relationship. It often triggers reciprocity.