Discover two simple tips that will help you create more powerful and mutually beneficial referral partnerships.
Your legal peers are not just great for mentors or bouncing ideas off of, they can be your best source of referrals, especially if you are in a shared law office rental. But much like any other relationship, there are certain things you can do to increase the likelihood of a long-lasting mutually beneficial relationship.
A strategic referral partnership is all about relationship building. Think of it like making a new best friend. It takes time and effort, and it rarely happens overnight.
To help, we’ve listed two great tips that will put you on the path to creating more beneficial and lasting relationships. Increasing the number of referrals you will receive and boosting your firm’s bottom line.
Practice Giving First
Want to guaranty referrals from another attorney? Send them a piece of business first.
When another person gives us something, it’s in our nature to reciprocate with something of equal or greater value. You can see this at work in all areas of our lives. For example, compliment someone on how nice they look today. In nearly every case the recipient will reflexively say “thank you.” Most people will also pay you a reciprocal compliment.
Personal finance guru T. Harv Eker does an exercise in his seminars that really demonstrates the power of this phenomenon.
He asks participants to pay a compliment to someone else, but instructs recipients to say nothing in return; not even thank you. He asks recipients to pay careful attention to how it feels when they do not reciprocate. It’s awkward. An imbalance in the relationship between the two people is created that makes them both feel uncomfortable.
This phenomenon is what makes referral partnerships so powerful. Giving referrals ends up becoming a contest to see who can do it most. This is the best type of contest because there are no losers.
Finding opportunities for your referral partners is as simple as being cognizant of their practice areas. Also, when you are out doing your own marketing, keep an eye out for opportunities for your partners. The more referrals you can send to other attorneys, the more referrals you will find are sent back in your direction.
Understand the Cycle of Business Flow
Good referral partners understand how business flows to and from their referral partners’ practices.
The best referral relationships are those where there is the possibility for the consistent exchange of referrals. Corporate transactional attorneys and commercial litigators have this type of relationship. So do workers’ comp attorneys and personal injury litigators. Each practice area is in the position to frequently send and receive referrals to the other.
There are some instances where a lawyer may be in a position to send steady referrals, but where you are not in a position to reciprocate. For example, corporate transactional attorneys who represent small business owners can frequently send referrals to divorce attorneys; however, divorce attorneys are rarely in a position to reciprocate with direct referrals.
If the divorce attorney understands the flow of business to a corporate practice, he or she can introduce and endorse the corporate attorney to other referral partners, for example, an IP attorney. Your obligation to reciprocate can be fulfilled by providing value other than through a direct referral.
For many lawyers, referrals are their main source of new business. Whether or not this describes you and your practice, these tips will go a long way towards helping you create more impactful and beneficial referral relationships with your peers. Who wouldn’t want that?