One of the greatest challenges lawyers face in growing and sustaining a successful law practice is staying in touch with referral sources. It’s amazing how life gets in the way and distracts us from keeping in touch. That being said, failure to do so is at your own peril. The lawyers, accountants, and consultants who send business your way MUST be taken care of and communicated with to ensure your law practice continues to thrive. It’s certainly conceivable that other lawyers in your space are wooing them away from referring you every day. You may not have thought of that.
There is a solution, and it’s not very complicated or time-consuming to accomplish. I’ve coined it as FRETZIN’s strategic partner development and loyalty plan. The concept is simple. Stop taking your relationships for granted and start paving the road to more and better referrals from your existing relationships. If this sounds reasonable, let’s get started. Here are three simple steps to plan and execute this game-changing strategy.
Step #1. Create your strategic partner list and rate the people as an A, B, or C. I hope that you’ve been keeping score. Meaning you know who has given you what and for how much. An easy way to discern your network of referral partners is to look at the data. If one lawyer sent you a small matter five years ago and is not directly adjacent to your practice area space, they might be rated as a C. However, the CPA sending you three to five clients a year, with more to follow, might be an A for you. One way to ferret this out is to get a list of all your clients in the last five years and connect them to the referring party. If you see the same names popping up repeatedly, those referral sources are your top players.
So now that you have a list of As, Bs and Cs laid out on a Word doc, Excel, or in your CRM, you’re ready to move on to step #2.
Step #2. Getting face time and adding value for your partners is critical to keeping your strategic partners in place. Sound’s pretty obvious; however, you’re probably thinking that you’re not doing this at all or, at best, very little. That’s problematic, as these are the fundamentals of how relationships and obtaining more referrals work. Additionally, you may want to consider the importance of developing your Cs into Bs and your Bs into As.
Here are 10 things you can and should be doing to ensure your best strategic partners stay with you for the long haul (in order of importance).
- Be a great lawyer!! They must get positive feedback from the referral about you and the great job you did. A bad report, and the show will be over.
- Make proactive connections for new clients and other referral partners that would benefit them. This quid pro quo may not be necessary for all strategic partners, but it doesn’t hurt either.
- Build the social component (be a friend). You may have already done this, so lean into it and invest more time in-person and via Zoom this year than last.
- Ask yourself, “How many circles am I running in?” This is important because one or more might be a good fit for your strategic partners. You can bring them as a guest to an event you attend or get them onto a board that you know provides great opportunities for new business. Leverage your networking spheres of influence to bring in good people who will get and give value within your network.
- Be your client’s “go-to” person for professional resources. If they need a good Plaintiff-side employment lawyer, you should provide one. Or maybe the needs an experienced banker, please provide. Not to brag, but my clients email me all the time because they know I have the strongest legal network in town.
- Find or create amazing content that they can share with their clients. This type of value-add also gives you another touch point to stay in front of them. Look for personal and business information that you know they will appreciate. For me on the personal side, it’s fishing and platform tennis. Anyone that emails me that kind of content is a homerun player in my book.
- Connect via email, text, and phone to touch base. Sometimes just calling to say hello and asking, “What can I do for you?” is incredibly meaningful.
- Be their social media advocate. Make it a point to pull up each strategic partner’s activity on LinkedIn once a week (best habit) or every month (minimally) to comment and share their posts (if they have them). People love this, and it makes them feel like you have their back.
- Invite your best partners to co-author an article with you or interview them for one of yours. This is such an easy way to say, “You’re not only smart, but your opinion matters to me and my audience.”
- Similar to the point above, how can you collaborate with your strategic partners? You probably have similar prospects and targets to each other. Think about sharing a stage (or a Zoom) and bringing to your audiences a new and inventive presentation you worked on together. This can be a legal topic, economic, or just timely, given the changing business landscape.
One of the biggest complaints I hear lawyers say is, “I’d love to network more, but I don’t know what to give others.” Well, look at the 10 suggestions I’ve provided here, and you won’t have to say that anymore.
Step #3. Write the plan and start taking action. All you need to do moving forward is get your A, B, and C lists together and decide what to do for your As, Bs, and Cs (the Cs get less than the As in most cases), and schedule time in your calendar weekly or monthly to make those proactive reach outs. Some of this can even be automated through a CRM like Lawmatics, which can send out multiple emails that look personalized. My suggestion would be to have your list of names and tasks on Excel on your desktop to use and track what you’ve done. Lastly, don’t be afraid to bring in your assistant or virtual assistant to help you execute on some of these tasks. This will help ensure they get done and not take up too much time for you personally.
The idea here is not about running around chasing after your own tail, but rather leveraging the relationships that you’ve already built to get more from them. As you know, sometimes just being in front of your people makes good things happen (like new business!). If this was helpful–and I hope it was–please check out more of my content in my new book entitled “Legal Business Development Isn’t Rocker Science,” now available on Amazon.