In the legal world, as well as nearly every other industry, it’s all about who you know. Relationships between peers are what enable us to cover more ground and serve our clients best. Blindly reaching out to potential clients, even when you have pinpointed your biggest opportunities, will always result in a higher failure rate simply because they don’t know you. On the other hand, if you’ve been recommended, you’re as good as in. Knowing that your attorney network is going to be a key driver for your client generation, let’s focus on how you can grow and strengthen that base.
1) Identify as a Specialist
Nobody does everything, and when they come close, they aren’t doing any of those things at the highest level. We simply don’t have the time. Plus, generalist attorneys don’t get referrals from their peers because those peers are talking to clients who have a specific problem. When a client has a family member pass away, they need a guy who really knows estate law. If a client is trying to get their new business off the ground, they’re happy to work with the woman who specializes in business law. Play to your strengths, and your network will be able to say, “I know a lawyer who could really help you with that.”
2) Market to Your Attorney Connections (Not Just Your Clients)
Functionally, marketing is responsible for driving growth within a practice. It may be a step removed, but marketing to attorneys who are referring business to you is still accomplishing that growth. There are two factors that you should keep in mind when reaching out to your attorney referral network:
Don’t Just Capture, Retain
Each referral partner acts as a lead engine. Having 50 of those high-performing engines beats having 5 any day, but you don’t get there from just adding another partner to the mix every week. Make sure the relationship with the connection you made in 2006 is just as strong as the new one you make in 2016 by staying in touch and countering with your own referrals on occasion. At Practice Alchemy we give our members a process that accelerates this, but it still applies even if you use your own method. New partners may carry a little more weight since you’re establishing trust, but that doesn’t mean you should take existing trust for granted.
Swap the Mixer for Marketing Automation
The classic martini mixer may work wonders for the more charming and extroverted attorneys among us, but it’s not for everyone, and it’s certainly not sustainable. Marketing automation systems provide a reliable, behind-the-scenes assurance that you’re consistently communicating with your existing partners, as well as taking the initiative when an inbound attorney interacts with your blog or other marketing assets.
3) Give Back to Your Partners
On the note of marketing automation, you can also use the system as a means of delivery to demonstrate your appreciation. First, review your attorney referral network and identify their differences in practice, clientele, or other interests. Once you have that figured out, you can track those groups and make sure you’re delivering what they care about most. Some attorneys may find knowledge share to be as valuable as referrals, which means less work on your end for meeting the unwritten referral “numbers” that keep your relationship alive.
4) Get (Another) Best Friend
Another advantage to categorizing your partners and tracking the balance between investment and reward is that you’ll eventually find trends. There may be a partner archetype that consistently delivers the best clients to your door, and altogether is the best complement to your own practice. Duplicate your efforts and get more of those partners. To use the engine analogy again, it’s better to have 50 turbocharged advocates for your practice than gas guzzlers with low return.
Your attorney referral network can be your lifeline for when your search for clients gets stale, but attorneys aren’t the only source for referrals. What about the clients themselves? For information on how to revolutionize your practice and fuel your growth with a consistent referral stream, you can download “Client Referral Cheat Sheets” for free right here, right now. I hope you get some use from this post’s tips, and I look forward to sending you more on maximizing your law firm marketing!