Referrals are the lifeblood of your law practice.
If prospective clients are being sent your way on a regular basis, your future is bright. But referrals don’t just fall into your lap. You have to seek out, identify and cultivate promising referral sources. And you have to nurture them to keep the pipeline flowing.
Here are your Marketing Practice Pointers for the second quarter of 2022, with a focus on referrals.
Marketing Practice Pointers for 2022
Q2 Focus: Referral Sources
1. Know where your business is coming from. Do you ask potential clients how they heard about you? Was it from a friend, co-worker, a former client? Was it from an advertisement? If so, which ad – and when? Did Google point them your way? It’s critical to know the answers to these questions. Ask every prospect how and why they came to you, whether or not you wind up taking their case. Train your staff to do the same. Add a “Source of Business” query to your Client Intake Form. Write all this data down. Analyze it periodically.
2. Identify your Top 10 referral sources. Review your intake sheets for the past several years. Keep a running list of your 10 top referrers.
3. Stay in front of your Top 10 referrers. Each week, reach out to one referrer on the list with a quick email, text or call. Calendar this as a recurring task. Keep it light and friendly. Say you were thinking about them and hope they’re well. Thank them for their most recent referral, identifying the client by name (they might have forgotten). Ask if there’s anything you can do for them. There’s no need to specifically ask for more business. Just show up and be yourself.
4. Keep your Top 10 referrer list fresh. When you’ve made contact with a referrer, drop them to the bottom of the Top 10 list and reach out to the new name at the top. Evaluate your list periodically. Add or drop names as appropriate.
5. Build relationships with your top referrers. Referrals are not a one-way street. Reciprocate by sending business their way. When you refer business elsewhere, follow up: “Did Jane Doe happen to contact you? She was looking for a good insurance agent, and naturally I told her to call you.” Find out the birthdays of your top referrers and send them a card. Extend greetings – or gift them – on holidays. Send a hand-written note for no reason other than to stay connected.
6. Take a top referrer to lunch. Or coffee, a baseball game, whatever. It’s a way to say thanks, and to stay on their radar.
7. Mine your closed files for referrals. Just because you’ve concluded a case doesn’t mean your relationship with the client has ended. In fact, it could be just beginning. Reach out to former clients, starting with matters closed in the past year. Keep it light with a subject line like Time to reconnect? or Blast from the Past. Send them birthday cards and such. If you’ve expanded your practice areas, let them know.
8. Follow the Rules of Professional Conduct. Brush up on Rules 7.1and 7.2 (Communications About Your Services) and Rule 7.3 (Soliciting New Clients).
9. Sign up with a lawyer referral service. Contact your state bar association and find out if they have a referral program. If you choose a private service, make sure the provider is approved in your state and complies with the ethics rules.
10. Get to know your neighbors. At home and at work. Are they aware you’re a lawyer? Do they know your practice areas?
11. Make referrals a team sport. Remind your employees to keep an antenna up for friends and acquaintances in need of legal help. Again, be careful to follow the ethics rules prohibiting client solicitation.
12. Expand your contacts. Make connections with people from different demographics, businesses and backgrounds. Broaden your referral horizon.
13. Ask other lawyers for referrals. It won’t make you look needy; it’ll make you look smart. Be sure to reciprocate by sending business their way.
BONUS PRACTICE POINTER: Remember: it’s not all about you. Seek first to serve. In all your reach-outs, ask what you can do for the recipient, not just to earn a fee but because you value the relationship.
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