What separates lawyers who bring in the greatest amount of new business from those who struggle to maintain their business development and financial goals? Lawyers who have mastered the art of referrals remain at the top when it comes to attracting new clients and profitable business.
How do you master the Art of Referrals?
1. At the core of building referral sources is trust. Trust is based on two components. The first is a belief that you have the competence to solve a clients problem and second is confidence that you have the referral sources best interest at heart. If you meet both criteria, you will begin to build trust with referral sources and your professional network.
The key to building trust is to focus on both competence and a having a genuine interest in helping your referral sources and professional network. In an article written by Charles H Green of the Trusted Advisor, he summarizes the four specific principles governing trustworthy behavior as:
- A focus on the other (client, customer, internal co-worker, boss, partner, subordinate) for the other’s sake, not just as a means to one’s own ends.
- A collaborative approach to relationships. Collaboration here means a willingness to work together, creating both joint goals and joint approaches to getting there.
- A medium to long term relationship perspective, not a short-term transactional focus. Focus on relationships nurtures transactions; but focus on transactions chokes off relationships. The most profitable relationships for both parties are those where multiple transactions over time are assumed in the approach to each transaction.
- A habit of being transparent in all one’s dealings.Transparency has the great virtue of helping recall who said what to whom. It also increases credibility, and lowers self-orientation, by its willingness to keep no secrets.
Have an authentic interest in others.
2. Give referrals.The fastest approach for building more referrals is to give referrals. When meeting with a prospective referral source, ask, “How would I know if someone was a good client for you?” This allows you to know more about the referral source so you can refer a client if you believe they are the best resource for the client.
3. Clearly and succinctly communicate what you do. You will not receive referrals if the person you are talking to does not know your value on how you can assist their clients. Once you have learned about the person you are talking to, communicate the value of your work as it relates to them and their interests.
4. Schedule time in your calendar to strengthen your relationship with existing referral sources and to expand your professional network at targeted events and social media. Building strong referral sources will require dedicated and focused time. Figure out how many referrals you need a month to meet your marketing goals and use this as a gauge to identify how much time you should be spending each week on building your referral network.
5. Provide exceptional value to clients. Satisfied clients are your best source of referrals. These referrals carry the most credibility because they speak from a place of experience about your work. You can increase referrals from former or existing clients by assuring they have a positive experience with your service.
6. Acknowledge every referral you receive. Once you receive a referral from a client or colleague, be sure to thank them for the referral. Your thank you can be a letter, phone call, lunch, bottle of wine or tickets to a special event. It does not matter as much what you do as long as the thank you is timely, personal and conveys your appreciation.
You can master the art of building referrals
Everyone can master the art of building referrals by showing an authentic level of interest and concern for others. Pay attention to who you want as a referral source and create a plan to build relationships with those professionals. The best plan will be easy to implement if it comes from a genuine place of wanting to bring value.