People lead you to people


Some people can hire you. Some can’t. Or won’t. Some people can send you referrals. Some can’t. Or won’t. 

Here’s the thing. It doesn’t matter what someone can or can’t do. They know people you don’t know and can lead you to them.

Your new client might know no one who needs your services. But their boss, accountant, neighbor, or friend might. It’s not who you know, it’s who they know and can lead you to. 

You still need to be refer-able. You still need to get introduced or have your contact give them your card or a link to your website. But it gives you a path. A modus operandi. When you meet someone new—online or in person, through formal networking, speaking to a new client or prospect, or chatting with a stranger in line to get coffee, your job is to find out who they know. 

Emblazon it on your brain. “Who do they know?” (Or “Whom…” if you were an English major.)

If they mention they work at a certain company, find out what they do there and who they work with. Do they know any of the executives, directors, vendors, or shareholders? Do they know anyone who does?  

You might start by asking if the company has in-house counsel or works with an outside firm. It would be good to meet those lawyers. Even if they are your direct competitor, they might have a conflict or otherwise be unable to represent a client or take a case (e.g., too big, too small, wrong industry, etc.) and might refer them to you.

NB: get to know other lawyers.

What if your client or contact doesn’t know the in-house counsel or hesitates to introduce them? Pick up the phone, call that lawyer, tell them you have a mutual business contact (the employee at their client’s company) and want to introduce yourself and find out more about what they do. (Psst, and who they know). 

It works the same way with everyone. When you sign up a new client, find out the name of their insurance broker, accountant, financial planner, or attorney. 

More people you want to know.  

As a friend of mine used to put it, “Don’t look ‘at’ them, look ‘through’ them—because it’s not who you know, it’s who THEY know. 

My guide to Lawyer-to-lawyer referrals