Do you know that one lawyer or business owner who seems to have no trouble bringing in clients? The one lawyer or business owner who seems to know everyone and whose name is on the tip of every tongue? What’s so special about that lawyer? Is he a better practitioner than you? Does she charge less for her legal services than all the other lawyers out there?
Unlikely. What’s more likely is that the lawyer in question has become a Center of Influence or COI.
Center of Influence Defined
What is a Center of Influence? It’s someone who is well-known, respected and trusted in the community and, as a result, has significant influence over the thoughts and actions of others.
People ask COIs for advice and referrals, let them know when something interesting is happening in the community, offer them speaking engagements, request that they write articles, invite them to sit on committees and speak on panels and solicit their views when important decisions are made. They are respected, admired and trusted, so their opinions, suggestions and referrals carry greater weight than those of others. And they know and frequently interact with other COIs, giving them even more impact.
Because Centers of Influence are so involved in what’s going on in whatever communities they choose to be part of, they may seem to know everyone. Perhaps even more important, they are known by everyone. They are magnets for opportunity.
You may have heard that it’s a good idea to “get in” with Centers of Influence, to get to be known by them and associated with them so you can benefit from their contacts through referrals, as well as their aura of importance. And that makes sense. If you are a residential real estate lawyer, for example, it’s a good idea to get to know the real estate brokers and agents in your city or town, particularly the ones who do the most business and are the most well-respected in your local community. Their opinions and referrals will carry great weight with buyers and sellers who are looking for someone to handle a residential contract and closing.
But don’t just hang around with Centers of Influence. Become one yourself!
When you become a Center of Influence, you open yourself up to opportunities to meet people who can speak on your behalf and influence clients to call you instead of someone else when it’s time to retain a lawyer. Your network will grow more quickly and with less effort
How to Become a Center of Influence
Here are 2 simple ways to become a Center of Influence:
Get out there! You can’t become a COI by sitting at your desk all the time and banging out the work. Join carefully selected community or trade organizations and get actively involved. Be visible on committees, make helpful suggestions or offer to pitch in when something needs to be organized or someone needs to be called. Introduce yourself to new people and make an effort to get to know them, what they do and what they care about. Immerse yourself in your community so that you know what’s going on in your corner of the world.
Help others and be a people connector. One of the primary ways to become a COI is to help others, in particular by connecting people who can help one another or who might enjoy one another’s company. Always be on the lookout for chances to introduce your contacts to each other for their mutual interest. Although making those introductions may not directly benefit you right away, your contacts will be grateful for the introduction and will seek ways to return the favor by introducing you to someone who can help you or hire you. As an added benefit, when your contacts interact with one another, they will remember that you are the reason they had the chance to meet, giving you top-of-mind awareness.
When you become a Center of Influence, you improve your standing in the community, allowing you to both impact others in a positive way and reap the benefits of opportunities that will be offered to you down the road.