The best strategy for meeting your financial and origination goals is to increase referrals for desirable clients. For most lawyers the top three sources for referrals include:
- Web site/internet
- Past clients
A successful business development plan incorporates strategies for all three categories. This post will focus on one of the most important sources for referrals, building your professional network.
Building your professional referral network begins with clarity on who is in your network and who you want in your network.
One of your best marketing tools is to have an organized and updated spreadsheet of existing and prospective referral sources. While creating and maintaining this list may seem like a logical and worthwhile marketing strategy, I have found that most lawyers find it difficult to find the time to develop and actively use this important list.
The following are three strategies for building your professional network to get you started:
1. Create your list of referral sources:
- Review your cases for the last 12-24 months and include current professionals who have referred to you.
- Include professionals who serve your target clientele, i.e. lawyers, mental health professionals, financial specialists and wealth managers, etc.
- Organize your referral into “A”, “B’ and “C” categories. “A” referral sources are those who have referred multiple clients, referred desirable clients and/or who serve your target market.
2. Initiate contact with the professionals on your list. Aim for 1-3 contacts a week with “A” referral sources. The following is a list of ways you can stay top of mind with important referral sources:
* Post a company update on LinkedIn
* Send a hand written note
* Invite them for coffee or lunch
* Send a LinkedIn invitation
* Comment on their blog
* Comment on their LinkedIn post
* Include their name in your press release, article or blog post
* Retweet their tweet
* Send a referral
* Invite them to an event
* Set up a Google Alert for their name and company
* "Like" their post on Facebook or other social media resources
* Send an email acknowledging a promotion or award
* Send a Thank you note for a referral ( include a Starbucks card or other simple token of appreciation)
* Email a relevant article or blog post
* Put them in touch with someone who they would benefit meeting
* Offer an introduction to a colleague at your firm or someone in your professional network
* Send an unsolicited LinkedIn recommendation
3. Once you create your referral list, keep the list visible and review it once a week. Keep referral sources in the forefront of your mind so if you see something relevant to your referral sources you can make contact with them.
In summary, if you want to increase referrals from your professional network, schedule the time to review your list and do something each week that brings value or connects you to your network. To be effective, your actions must be authentic and consistent.
What is your plan?
Who are your best referral sources? Do you spend time cultivating your referral sources from all three categories? Are you scheduling the time in your weekly calendar for staying "top of mind" with key referral sources?