Referrals are one of the easiest and most reliable ways to expand your law firm’s client roster. Once referred, potential clients will see you as a solid choice even if they haven’t heard of the firm before, giving you a leg up on competing firms that may have wider name recognition.
Virtually all law firms wish for more referrals, but how can you increase the number you get? Here are three strategies that effectively boost referrals. There’s no reason to choose just one; combine all three and you’re likely to see a dramatic boost in referrals, along with a similar increase in new clients.
- Connect with other attorneys. If your focus is employment law, you probably don’t receive many referrals from other firms with the same focus. That’s also true in business litigation, tax law or any other practice area. But if your practice is around employment law and you’ve established a positive relationship with a business litigaton attorney – or several – then you’ve created a prime pipeline for new business clients who want to prevent or handle legal problems. If you’re a tax attorney, your relationships with family law and probate lawyers could pay off with referrals. Think about the practice areas that relate to yours without competing, and where the events that led clients to seek legal help in one area often precipitate a need for help in yours. Reach out to local attorneys, law school classmates and others in those practice areas to strengthen the connection. They may be happy to refer clients who end up needing the services you provide.
- Leverage your knowledge through social media. Maintaining a strong social media presence expands recognition of you as a leader in your practice area. That supports direct outreach from new clients, but just as important is the chance to get referrals from other attorneys. By sharing your thought leadership in conversations on Twitter, LinkedIn Groups and forums with a legal focus, you’ll be keeping your name and expertise in the minds of colleagues who can offer referrals when clients approach them with a need that they cannot fulfill, but that you can. Actively demonstrating your knowledge and willingness to help via social media is valuable in many ways; don’t overlook its potential to significantly increase referrals.
- Ask your current clients. You know who gives the best referrals, of course, and that’s your current client base. Most are probably willing to refer you but rarely think to do so. Just ask them! Don’t pressure anyone, but a friendly request/reminder to let their contacts know that they’ve been happy with your services is never out of place. Send an email or a handwritten note that thanks them for being a client, and then politely ask for referrals to others, or do it in person, the next time they’re in the office. When you receive referrals from current clients, it’s a nice gesture to show your appreciation with a gift: a bottle of wine, a gift card for dinner at a popular restaurant or another small token of your gratitude.
Referrals are a valuable gift that can’t be forced. That doesn’t mean you have to sit quietly and hope for them without taking action though. Try these strategies to increase referrals and you may be pleasantly surprised at how many you get.