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How to Grow and Nurture Your Attorney Referral Network

One of the biggest things attorneys want to do, after Practice Alchemy has set up their marketing campaigns to run on autopilot for a year, is understand how to improve the quality of their referral sources.

And there’s actually a pretty straightforward way to do that.

Step #1: Stop the bleeding.

OK, so this isn't something our members need to do, since we do it for them - but since you might not be one, I'm including it here.

You have to make sure the people who know you and trust you will never forget who you are and what you do. Until you accomplish this, you could be losing potential business as you’re hunting for new business.

It's one of the biggest reasons practice hit a ceiling - their older contacts are forgetting about them as fast as they meet new people. All that time, money, and energy building relationships... and it's slipping away unless you're doing something about it.

So before you do anything else, stop the bleeding. Make sure you're not losing valuable relationships. (Side note: we're happy to show you how to do it, even if you don't use our services. Just talk to our Practice Growth team.)

Step #2: Realize you MUST grow your referral network.

Who is sending you business? How many people are sending you business? What would happen if one of those referral partners went away?

If you’re like most attorneys, the vast majority of your business comes from a very small number of referral partners. If one of those referral partners decides to send business somewhere else, or a piano falls on their head, your business could seriously take it on the chin.

Related: Is Your Referral Network Eroding?

You have to envision the worst-cases scenario. You have to understand that if you don’t have enough leverage over yourself to mitigate this risk by growing your network, you’ll always be one step away from disaster.

OK - Now that you’ve gotten leverage over yourself and realize how important it is, what are you going to do about it?

That takes us to the next step – cloning your best referral sources.

Step #3: Clone your best referral sources.

It’s a very simple concept. Who are your best referral sources? Why are they good referral sources? What kinds of clients or customers do they serve? What kinds of people do they have access to? Where did you meet them?

Most attorneys have five or so good referral sources when they come into our Practice Alchemy programs. Our goal is to get that number to 25 (imagine how much more business you'd get if that happened to you).

Once you’ve answered the questions above, use tools like LinkedIn to identify potential referral partners. Get introduced, nurture those relationships, and repeat.

This isn’t necessarily an easy process, especially if you don't have the time or the blueprint to doing it repeatedly. But you have to do it. It’s the only way to grow, and to mitigate risk to your business.

OK, I get it. But really, how do I find the right referral partners?

Stop being reactive. Get proactive. I know, it sounds trite, but it really isn't.

You have to be ruthless about deciding whether your investment of time in face-to-face marketing is worthwhile. Most of the people you meet from networking are not, and never will be, good referral partners.

They’re just time vampires. You let them steal your time because, well, it's easier to take meetings than set them. Or, you like them.

That’s fine, but let’s call a spade a spade. Time spent with people who will probably never send you business is personal time, not marketing time.

Related: Why Your Thinking About Referrals Is Broken

You need to spend your marketing time with a singular focus on cloning your best referral sources.

This is how you build a vibrant referral network in a short amount of time. A referral network that can be nurtured on an ongoing basis through marketing campaigns, and the occasional in-person contact.

I know, it sounds hard. But if you organize it all, and approach it as a discipline (and outsource what you don't have time for), it works. Amazingly well.

Think about what would happen if you had three or four times as many good referral sources as you have today.

Could you be more selective about clients instead of accepting any business that comes to your door?

Could you increase your rate instead of playing the unwinnable pricing game?

Could you hire an associate instead of doing all the grunt work yourself?

There are only good outcomes – as long as you’re willing to put in the effort towards growing your referral network the smart way.

Raj Jha