If you’re looking for referrals from professionals, it’s important to have an in depth understanding of centers of influence and their business models.

What’s evident by evaluating the best networking practices of both ultra-successful professionals and self-made millionaires is that these insights and perspectives are core to building very powerful and meaningful relationships with centers of influence.

Centers of influence should be evaluated under five key criteria that comprise what I call the “Assessment Instrument”:

Attributes are the central and often defining characteristics of the professional. Here you look to address personal factors as well as their business situation. The latter includes their technical expertise and particular competencies as well as their strengths and weaknesses.

Contacts are the people the center of influence knows and can access. There are many components to this category, and all these facets need to be ascertained. The most pressing and informative components are the nature of contacts, the source of contacts, the strength of contacts and the center of influence’s connector capabilities.

Resources are the assets and means at the center of influence’s disposal. This goes beyond and can impact what people they know.

Intent refers to the center of influences’ preferences, needs and wants as they translate into interim objectives, which feed into larger goals. The three categories of goals are financial, strategic business and personal.

Crucial concerns are the dominant issues and interests the person is presently dealing with. Everyone is a “naked emperor.” Simply put, you need to know the concerns that are dramatically impacting the professional’s decision-making—concerns that affect his or her ability to focus, respond and follow through, and that may result in dysfunctional behavior.

Gathering this amount of information takes time, usually a lot of time. To completely and accurately fill out the Assessment Instrument can take years. While centers of influence will likely share some information fairly readily, acquiring a deep understanding of a professional is a long-term process because high degrees of trust are required before much of this information would be shared.

To get high-caliber introductions to the affluent from centers of influence, you don’t need to know everything; you certainly don’t need to fill out the entire Assessment Instrument. Very likely, you’ll be getting a steady flow of new affluent clients from a center of influence with only a comparatively minimal understanding of them, their businesses and the lives they lead. Still, over time, a collection of data will heighten your ability to create that flood of new affluent clients.