Referrals can be a good source of new business – and they can come from a variety of sources.
Referrals from happy former clients are great. A client’s previous experience working with your firm serves as a vote of confidence and can quickly build a bond of trust between you and a prospective client.
Former clients, however, are not the only referral source to develop. You should also build a reliable referral network with other law firms. Here are several touch points to think about as you develop a referral system with attorneys in your geographic area.
Cultivate your referral relationships by staying connected on social media.
Social media can be effective in a number of ways when it’s used correctly. Aside from being a great place to share recent blog posts and firm news, it’s also a good place to connect with former classmates and engage with colleagues.
Many of your peers likely spend time on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, making these three sites a good place to comment on others’ updates or share posts when it makes sense to do so.
Consider joining social media groups geared toward lawyers. LinkedIn, for example, has groups dedicated to specific law schools, practice areas, bar associations and more. As a result, you’re likely to find attorneys in a variety of practice areas who you can begin building referral relationships with. (Plus, these groups can be a good place to find CLE opportunities.)
Add referral sources to your email database.
If you send a regular newsletter or other communications, consider adding your referral sources to your email database to keep your firm top of mind when it comes time for referrals.
Whether you have news to share, you’ve received professional recognition, you’ve added a new lawyer, or you’re just checking in, regular emails can remind your network about your work (and what types of cases or matters you take). It’s also a good opportunity to direct those readers to your website where they can learn more about your firm.
While you don’t want to flood the inboxes of your referral sources, it’s worth being consistent with a quarterly email or when something of note happens at your firm.
Look for opportunities to refer clients to other attorneys.
Referral relationships are a two-way street: to build a solid network of attorney referral sources, it’s worth looking for opportunities to generate referrals for others, too. By staying in regular contact and referring clients to other firms when it makes sense to do so, you’re more likely to find that other attorneys will reciprocate when it comes time.
A note about practice areas
While the most common type of referral is to an attorney who handles different practice areas than you do, lawyers in the same practice area can also make referrals.
A busy family lawyer may not have the bandwidth to take on a particular type of matter related to collaborative law or mediation, for example, but knows another family lawyer who happens to specialize in those. It will be meaningful to the attorney that you chose to refer someone to them, and also to the potential client who needed assistance (even if you were not available to represent them).
By getting to know other lawyers in your geographic area – and even in the same practice area – you can find firms that have interests aligned with yours and discover opportunities to make (and receive) referrals.
Bonus: Send follow-ups.
When you get a referral from another attorney, it’s always worth sending a thank you note. Let your connections know how much you appreciate it when they value you enough to send a potential client your way. They’ll remember you when there’s another opportunity to refer a potential client.