In this week’s edition of Things I Wish I Knew, New York solo lawyer Joleena Louis shares the three tips that led her to build a strong referral network.
Referrals are the backbone of any law practice. And while you can’t control when a referral will be sent your way, you can certainly create more opportunities.
The start of the year is a great time to focus on a plan to grow your referral network and strategize on how to stay in contact with that network.
I’d like to think that I have built a good-sized referral network for my practice, and I did so by following these few tips. Take a look to see what you might be doing already and to learn what you can use to and grow your referral network in 2018.
Build a List
The first thing I did was write a list.
Start with your current and past clients. These people know what it feels like to work with you and can be your biggest cheerleaders. Potential clients will highly regard their recommendation since they have first-hand experience.
Then add anyone who has sent you clients in the past since they are likely to refer you again. Did you send them a thank you card? If not, do it now – it’s never too late.
Then you want to think of professionals that serve your ideal client. For my practice, those professionals include business attorneys, immigration attorneys, therapists, accountants, and real estate agents. Reach out to your current network and ask for introductions to these professionals. Add those names to the list.
Lastly, think about groups (such as Facebook groups) and organizations your ideal client may be a member of and reach out to the leaders of those organizations. Find out who they are and add them to the list.
I organize this list by relationship. If I have an existing relationship or substantial connection they go at the top of the list. The people I don’t know as well or have not connected with yet go towards the bottom. That way I can capitalize on the stronger relationships first.
Schedule a Meeting or Call
Many people will tell you to always meet in person, but when you are dealing with busy professionals, it can be difficult to get that in-person meeting. I have never had a referral source decline a phone meeting and I regularly get referrals from people I have yet to meet in person.
So if a face-to-face meeting does not work, just offer a 15-minute phone call and keep in touch after.
Prior to the meeting, I always Google the person to see what we have in common, this is an easy way to help get the conversation started. Once at the meeting I focus the conversation on their business and how to best refer to them. Then when we start talking about me, I very clearly articulate my ideal client and the best way to send me a lead.
This way it is easier for each of us to send business to one another.
I make it a rule to reach out to everyone on my referral list at least once a quarter. And I can’t stress how important this simple task is.
The follow-up doesn’t have to be complex. It can be an email, phone call, meeting for coffee, or sending them a useful article. I schedule 30 minutes every week to reach out to referrals, to follow up or just to stay top of mind (in addition to the two meetings a week).
Taking the time to be strategic about your referral network can make all the difference for your practice in 2018. Trust me.