Do you know where your best clients come from? Or should I say, “who” your best clients come from? If you’re like most attorneys, your best clients come from personal referrals. But have you ever thought about why your best clients come from referrals?
Let’s take a look at why your best clients almost always come from personal referrals. (I know; you may get some less than great clients from referrals, more on that in another post. First, let’s consider the great clients.) When someone refers a potential client to you, they are making a powerful statement about you. Your best referral sources refer people to you for three reasons: 1) they know you; 2) they like you; and 3) they trust you. And when they refer someone to you, they’re effectively telling that person that they “know, like and trust” you.
Think about your own experience in giving referrals to other attorneys. Do you ever make referrals to attorneys you don’t know, or don’t like, or don’t trust? The question is almost silly. No, it is silly.
If you want more great clients, you’ve got to focus on building “know, like and trust” with your referral sources. Great referral sources are like magnets for your practice; they attract the right clients for you and send them your way. So, now you’re thinking, “OK, but how do I go about building “know, like and trust?” It’s simple, and you can do it.
Step one – Get Known. Make sure your best referral sources know who you are. “Getting Known,” is really a two-tiered process. First, you need to be known in your legal community. You need to establish yourself as a great lawyer in your practice area. There are lots of ways to do this. You can speak at seminars; you can write substantive articles (Hint: most bar association newsletters are always looking for articles.); you can blog; or you can create an eNews for your firm – just to name a few. Then you need to “get to know” your best referral sources. Block time on your calendar each week to have lunch or coffee or a glass of wine with one of your best referral sources or someone who could be a referral source for you. This investment of time is one of the best investments you can make in the profitability of your practice.
Step two – Be Likeable. Being liked should be a natural outgrowth of getting known. As you get to know your referral sources, you’ll build real relationships with them. Real relationships. You’ll get to like them, and they’ll get to like you. This won’t happen with everyone you may want to cultivate as a referral source, but it will happen with people who’ll become your best referral sources.
In his book The Likeability Factor, Tim Sanders outlines four ways to build your “L-Factor” by enhancing four areas of your personality.
• Friendliness: Your ability to communicate openly with others.
• Relevance: Your capacity to connect with others’ interests, wants and needs.
• Empathy: Your ability to recognize and acknowledge other people’s feelings.
• Realness: Your integrity, which guarantees your likeability and authenticity.
Step three – Earn Their Trust. The key to earning their trust is acting with integrity all the time. Do what you say you are going to do. Be true to your word. Be . . . trustworthy. When you earn the trust of your referral sources, they transfer that trust to every person they refer to you. Clients who come to you from your best referral sources already trust you because your referral source trusts you. That is powerful.
Once you build “know, like and trust” with your referral sources, and the referrals start coming your way, there’s one more thing you need to do every single time you receive a referral: Send a thank you note to your referral source.