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In the world I work in there are several areas where I consider myself an “expert”.  By expert I mean I’ve had lots of experience in both understanding and implementing particular areas we work with clients in.  When presented the opportunity I will provide clients my advice and help them implement strategies and tactics as it becomes appropriate.

At the same time there is a huge area that I’m aware of things that can be done, but would not consider myself an expert.  I’ve been reading over fifty books a year for thirty-five years.  About 70% of these are on various business issues so that means I’ve read about 1,200 business books over this time frame.

Becoming an expert in an area is different than becoming knowledgeable.  An expert is one who not only has read enough to have a thorough understanding of a subject, but also has “real world” experience implementing this knowledge to get a positive result, either for themselves or others.  This is not only the definition I use when I think about doing work myself, it’s also the definition I use when developing a Rolodex of others I will bring in to assist when needed.

If you’re in the advice business I believe developing a Rolodex of other competent is advisors is important because:

There are always times you will need to bring in outside help.  When we work on complicated projects with a high payoff there are always several advisors working on the problem.  When you have highly competent people working on a project the results seem to be better and the engagement goes more smoothly.

You will have more legitimacy with your clients.  When you let your clients know you understand the issue, but recommend a person with more experience be brought in you raise the likelihood that your client will ask you for more advice.  Admitting that you don’t know everything about everything raises your credibility in your client’s eyes.  This is one of the factors in building trust.

You will develop a better outcome for your client.  When you bring in an outsider who has significant experience dealing with an issue you will help your client get a better outcome for a lower cost.  Although the experienced outsider might charge higher fees the total cost including mistakes is likely to be less.  When your client gets a great outcome you also look good, even when an outsider provides the service.

You get an opportunity to apprentice when working with an expert.  When you bring in an outside expert you often have a chance to work closely with them.  This is a great way to gain experience so that eventually you can hold yourself out as an experienced provider in new areas of service for your clients.

You develop a network of others who can support your business.  The experts you bring in from the outside often become friends who can help your business.  These experts will often need people with your experience.  If they truly are great at what they do, they also know it’s important for them to bring in expertise on issues they might not have.  This what we call needs based cross-referrals.  It’s not referrals because of obligation, but referrals based on expertise.

What have you done to develop your Rolodex?  Do you think about how a Rolodex can help you upgrade your skills and provide your clients with better service?  If so, I’m interested in hearing how.

Josh Patrick

One of the areas I have significant experience in is helping business owners navigate their relationship with their business.  Often this means helping them develop strategies from being active to passive to ex-business owners.  I invite you to get our complimentary Stage 3 Exit Readiness Report.  Click on the button below to be taken to the explanation page about our special report.


Securities and Investment Advisory Services offered through NFP Securities, Inc. (NFPSI), Member FINRA/SIPC. Stage 2 Planning Partners and NFPSI are not affiliated.

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Topics: business relationship management, enterprise value, collaboration, Customer Service

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