<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=817262628318194&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

Why Your Thinking About Referrals Is Broken


When you’re a young lawyer just starting out, you can feel like a pushy jerk asking your friends for referrals.

I started my practice with people who already knew me, and I didn’t want to look like I was hanging around begging for business all the time. I was also trying to figure out who I should talk to in order to get referrals.

Most of the time I ended up feeling like a teenager trying to sum up enough courage to ask the popular girl to the dance (OK, OK, enough courage to ask any girl in my case).

Know Your Value

I had it all wrong back then, because I was trying to be like everyone else. After I’d been in practice for a while, I began to have confidence in the fact that I offered a lot of value, and an understanding that a lot of that value came from my practice being unique.

That’s right, not me being the best lawyer. My practice being unique.

This changed the discussion entirely.

I was no longer that kid stumbling over words and hoping for a “yes,” but I’d transformed into a confident lawyer with a unique value proposition for potential clients.

Value + Vision = New Client

I’ll be honest. This didn’t happen overnight, and when I look back, I can see it was a multi-step process. The first step was realizing that I didn’t have to be like everyone else -- in fact, there’s huge value in being different and unique.

The next step was to find a way to articulate that value from the perspective of my ideal client.

Once I understood how my uniqueness could bring value to my clients, I began to frame a conversation around the whole idea. I was ready to take the next step - building a business model around this value proposition I had developed, and being able to articulate it.

(A side note: If you think your practice is not unique, that might be true. Today. But it doesn’t have to be unless you let it. You don’t have to be a commodity, no matter the practice area, no matter the geography. It’s a choice).

It’s A Conversation, Not A Pitch

I had developed something truly unique that I could get excited about, because I knew it would be ideal for clients. I reached a point where, instead of pitching to clients, I was engaging them in conversation about the amazing things our firm could do for them.

Armed with my new enthusiasm, it was a lot easier to go back to my colleagues -- and to walk up to strangers -- to talk about new business.

Let me say that again, because it’s important.

One of the reasons lawyers are reluctant to pitch themselves is because it needs to be a pitch. They’re not differentiated from the practice down the street, so they feel like they need to sell.

But if you’re unique – your practice is like no other, because of Who it serves and How it delivers that experience – all of a sudden it becomes a very, very different discussion.

Instead of talking about your practice area (and watching as prospective referral partners nod off), you’re talking about your signature five-step system for delighting clients – even above and beyond the legal work.

You’re talking about how your ideal clients find you irresistible because you’ve tailored everything you do just for them instead of for everyone.

You’re excited about talking about your business, because it’s not a pitch. It’s telling people how you’re doing great work – without talking about the work.

How about you? Have you positioned your unique practice? Are you excited about telling people how you do it, not what you do? Is your marketing easy because of it?

(Note to Practice Alchemy Members: see the video on Positioning Your Unique Practice in the members-only area for the shortcut to doing this)



Raj Jha