There seems to be a common theme on Facebook these days of people asking for referrals for various things.

In my Facebook feed, given my and my peers’ stage of life, it is all about pediatricians and daycare providers.

Never have I seen it go like this:

Friend 1: “I need a recommendation for a pediatrician for Jake. His last doctor has gone out of our network, and we need one close to our home.”

Response 1: “I know we live 50 miles away from you, but Dr. Jones really helped my Dad through his chronic arthritis issues. And he’s only 10 minutes from our house.”

That response doesn’t help at all, as it doesn’t meet any of the requirements that Friend 1 was seeking.

But what about this one:

Response 2: “Jake might like seeing Dr. Peters. She works at the center five minutes from your house, and we’ve been using her for all our children. As I am aware, we both use the same health insurance, she’s in your network and is taking new patients.”

Every box checked!

So how does this work for financial advisors?

Friend 1: “I need a recommendation for an advisor who can help me and John make sure we’re in the best spot leading up to retirement. With John being a doctor, we need some business planning as well as an advisor who can meet us after work.”

Anything that doesn’t specify that the advisor works with small-business owners, doctors, retirement planning and has out of office hours will be ignored.

Response 1: Julie, I asked my doctor who he uses when I saw him today. He suggests using Mr. Nettles who is 15 minutes away from John’s practice. He says he helped him sell part of his practice and meets with him on Saturday mornings when his office is closed.”

Bravo Mr. Nettles for being so referable that you landed another client without even having to meet that prospect.

It isn’t enough to work with a demographic of people anymore. Advisors have to be helping them solve a specific problem:

These problems could include helping a young lawyer prepare to become a partner; assisting a teacher submit a retirement letter and then figure out the next steps; aiding an author who has had a book optioned for a movie; or working with a songwriter who has songs that have started to be picked up by major recording artists.

Having a niche just isn’t enough these days. In order to gain the most referrals, advisors must have a niche inside their niche.

Dave Grant, a Financial Planning columnist, is founder of Finance for Teachers, a planning firm, and the Finance for Teachers Network, in Cary, Ill. He is also the founder of NAPFA Genesis, a networking group for young, fee-only planners. Follow him on Twitter at @davegrant82.

This story is part of a 30-day series on how to generate the best referrals.

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