One of the best – and cheapest – ways to grow your law practice is by creating and cultivating a strong referral network.
This doesn’t just happen by magic. It takes intention, effort and planning.
Most importantly, it requires you to ask your referral sources “How can I help you?” rather than “Could you please send me some business?”
A strong and durable referral relationship is a win-win situation where both sides benefit – not just you and your firm. That means helping your referral partners achieve their goals too.
“For attorneys, a strong network has always been crucial to a successful practice,” says law firm consultant Rob Foil in this blogpost for Attorney at Work. “A network’s makeup may vary between practice areas — an IP attorney’s network will most likely look very different from a personal injury attorney’s – but the principle is the same: Once you begin to focus on helping the people in your network get what they want, you will find it easier to transform those LinkedIn connections into long-term relationships that deliver value to all.”
Below is a five-step process suggested by Foil for creating a robust referral network.
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Five Steps to a Robust Referral Network
Step One: Ask your referral sources how you can help them. “When was the last time you asked someone about their goals and how you can help?” says Foil. “If you don’t have this information, you will miss opportunities to add value to the relationship. Also, by simply asking this question, you have already set yourself apart from a person’s other connections.”
Step Two: Be creative in showing appreciation. From Foil: “For example, if I have a contact who wants to be the number one widget salesperson in their company, I won’t limit my help to introducing them to people who buy widgets. I might also recommend a podcast they could find helpful. If I come across an app that could help them be more productive, I send them a link to the website. Think about the resources and experiences that can help your contacts get the results they are trying to achieve.”
Step Three: Get to know your referrers as people. Learn about their hobbies and outside interests. Look for ways to show your gratitude that go beyond the professional relationship.
Step four: Host something. “Once we are back to normal, hosting a diverse group of contacts for lunch, dinner or any other social event is a great way to establish yourself as a ‘super-connector,’” writes Foil. “For example, you might invite a few clients that have complementary businesses, along with an accountant, investment advisor, commercial banker, and realtor. Think strategically about the group’s makeup to maximize opportunities for everyone on the guest list.”
Step five: Keep your antenna up. Stay engaged with your referrers. Celebrate their wins with congratulatory gifts and cards. Be intentional about looking for opportunities to be of assistance to your referrals. Think win-win!
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