How to get your clients to support your law practice

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My wife and I are continuing to unclutter. Yesterday she brought our daughter’s Irish Dance costumes to her old school to see if they could use them.

The school today is much smaller than it was ten years ago when my daughter attended. My wife noticed that there isn’t room for the parents to congregate inside the school like we used to do. It looked like most parents dropped off their kids.

When the school was bigger, many parents stayed for the class. We spent time together–at the school, during competitions, and eventually, outside the school envirnonment–and we got to know each other and our families. The school became a social incubator and helped foster relationships that still exist today, five or ten years after our children attended.

When we were active at the school, there were competitions and shows and we parents contributed much time and effort building sets, working lights and music, and selling tickets to the shows to our friends and neighbors. Yes, we were supporting our children, but the amount of effort we contributed would not have been anywhere near the same had our social group of parents not been so strong.

Today, I’m sure they don’t get anywhere near the amount of parent involvement we had, simply because the parents don’t know each other as well. As a result, the smaller school is more likely to stay that way.

A business can leverage their customer base by creating a social environment where their customers can build strong ties among themselves and, therefore, also with that business. A law firm can do the same thing.

Most lawyers have a one-to-one private relationship with their clients. They don’t “cross pollinate” their clientèle. Because of privacy issues this is to be expected. Most clients don’t want anyone to know they’ve hired a bankruptcy or criminal defense lawyer. But not all practices are so constricted.

A small business practice, for example, has clients who can benefit from knowing each other. They can refer business, exchange ideas, and recommend vendors. If you hold a monthly event–a mixer, a breakfast or lunch, a seminar series–where your clients regularly come together, they would build a social network of their own. Your clients would benefit and as the organizer of these events, so would you.

When you have strong relationships with your clients, they are much more likely to remain your clients. No other lawyer will get their referrals. And if you need a favor–sending traffic to your web site, promoting your seminar, or distributing your new report–your clients will help. In fact, they’ll probably be more likely to do so because of the added accountability of the social network.

If there’s any way to build a social element into your practice, I suggest you give it a try. If this isn’t appropriate for your clients, you can do the next best thing–organize a breakfast or lunch or other regular social event for your referral sources and friends of the firm.

Strong relationships with your clients and referral sources help you strengthen and grow your practice. When they have strong relationships among themselves, your growth can be accelerated.

You don’t have to be the sponsor of that group, just the organizer. And the best part is you won’t have to listen to accordion music.

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