Being proactive about referrals

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Referrals happen, right? You don’t have to say anything or do anything other than provide great service. Happy clients tell others about you, give them your business card or your website, and magic happens.

Your business contacts do the same thing. They might say that you did a good job for some of their clients or customers, or they know you by your stellar reputation, or they know you from church or your kid’s soccer team, and you’re a nice fella or gal.

More magic.

If you get any referrals right now, you know this is true. Referrals happen this way all day, every day.

Without you doing anything extra to make that happen.

But while you don’t have to say anything or do anything, there are things you could say or do that could significantly increase the number of referrals you get.

You might double or triple them. You might increase them tenfold.

How much would it be worth to you over the course of a year to get even one additional referral each month?

Okay, enough with the sexy numbers. You want to know what you could say or do to stimulate more referrals, and you don’t want to work hard to do it.

I’ll give you 3 things you can do, starting today.

First, you can talk about referrals. No, I didn’t say ask for them. Talk about them. In your blog posts and articles, in your presentations, and in your conversations.

When you tell a story about a client with a problem, simply mention that they were referred to you by another client who had a similar problem, or by another lawyer or influential person in your community.

Every time you do that, you tell people that you (routinely) get referrals, suggesting that they might do the same.

Thing is, some people can send you referrals but don’t, primarily (according to surveys) because they “didn’t think of it”. This is a simple way to help them think of it.

The second thing you can do is to equip your clients and contacts to refer you.

Give them something they can hand out besides your business card, so that when they talk to someone who might need your help, they can give them something that tells them what you do and how you can help them.

They don’t have to explain. The handout does that for them and tells the prospective client exactly what you want them to know and what to do next.

One more.

Make a habit of asking people for referrals to other professionals.

Tell them you like to network with other attorneys, real estate or financial professionals (or whoever might make a good referral source for you), and ask if they know anyone. If they do, ask for a name, tell them you’ll call them to introduce yourself, and ask, “is it okay if I mention your name?”

You get to talk to potential referral sources who will know that you represent one of their clients or business contacts. You still have work to do, but your mutual client or contact gives you a huge head start.

And yes, it is as simple as that.

Learn more about what to do with this (for clients) and this (for professional contacts).

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Your best source of referrals?

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Many people say clients are your best source of referrals. They know, like, and trust you and can share their experiences with your firm with their friends and business contacts.

True, but they might not know that their friend or contact has a problem or needs to talk to an attorney. They might not know about all the services you offer or how to recognize when someone needs your help. They might not think of you when someone they know has a problem, or know what to do to refer them.

Which is why you need to educate your clients, equip them to make referrals, and stay in touch with them.

Some say other attorneys are your best source of referrals because they know when their client or contact needs the help you provide and can influence them to talk to you.

That’s true, too, but those attorneys might have other attorneys they work with and refer to, or they might not know you well enough to trust you to properly handle their client’s matter.

Which is why you need to build relationships with other attorneys, make them aware of what you have done for your clients, and stay in touch with them, before you can expect them to send you referrals.

Some say your best source of referrals are people who have previously referred clients to you. That’s also true, but only if those previous referrals were happy with you.

Which is why you have to provide your clients with great results and great service, properly thank the referral-giver, stay in touch with them, and continue to build your relationship with them.

Your best source of referrals? I don’t know who might be yours, but I can tell you one thing. It will be people with whom you have a good relationship.

Which is why you need to stay in touch with people, instead of assuming they know who you are and will contact you if they need you.

I’ve never found an easier way to do that than an email newsletter.

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Networking math

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We tend to think of networking as arithmetic. The more people we know, the more likely it is that someone will need our services or know someone they can refer.

But it’s not arithmetic. It’s multiplication.

It’s not just about the people you know, it’s about the people they know.

A new contact may never need your services themselves, they might never send you referrals, but might know people who know people who will.

When you meet someone new, therefore, don’t look “at” them, look “through” them. Who do they know? Who could they lead you to?

If you meet your new contact in a networking-type setting where giving referrals and introductions is expected, tell your new contact what you do, describe your ideal client, and also describe your ideal referral source.

If they know someone who might be a good fit, ask them to introduce you.

If you meet them under different circumstances, it’s a longer process, but unlike a formal networking group, there’s no competition and you might make some great new connections.

One new contact might lead you to dozens of new clients; if that contact is well-connected, if they are a center of influence in your target market or your community, they might lead you to enough business to put you in another tax bracket.

Yes, it can be a lot of work. The good news is that you don’t need hundreds of new contacts to make your networking efforts worthwhile, you only need one.

Because one can lead you to many more.

How to get more referrals from lawyers and other professionals

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Learn, do, teach

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You learn about marketing. You do it and get good at it.

Life is good.

Life gets even better, however, if you take what you’ve learned and teach it to your professional contacts.

Teach them some things you’ve learned about marketing professional services, from me and others.

Teach them how to identify their target market and ideal client, and why it’s important to focus.

Teach them how to get more referrals from their clients and their professional contacts.

Teach them about using content to attract more prospects and show them what they can do to help them.

Teach them about the power of staying in touch with clients and prospects and the best ways to do that.

Teach them by sharing information and by the power of your example. Tell them what you’ve done to bring in new business, repeat business, bigger cases and better clients.

Share your process, your forms and checklists. Show them how you market your practice without spending a lot of time or breaking the bank, and how they can do the same.

As you do this, they will also learn more about you—your target market and ideal client. They’ll learn how to recognize them and the best way to refer them.

As you do this, you will train a small army of new referral sources for your practice.

They’ll appreciate you. They’ll want to help you. And they’ll have more clients or customers coming in that they can refer to you.

And they will, since no other lawyer is helping them this way.

This will help you identify and approach prospective referral sources

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A better way to ask for referrals

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Asking for referrals is easy. But the way you ask can make a big difference in the results you get.

Mary Kay Ash taught her distributors the right way. She said,

“When asking for a referral, don’t ask if they know someone who wants what we’re offering. Instead, ask for someone who has a problem we can solve.”

Why is this better? Because it gets the listener to focus on their friends’ problem or desire, not your products or services.

When you ask a client this type of question, in their mind’s eye they can see their cousin who is in a bad marriage or their friend whose daughter just had a baby and might need to prepare a Will. They might know an entrepreneur who needs to incorporate or a business owner who has mentioned having trouble with his employees.

If they say they know someone, ask them to give their friend your card.

Still, this may not be right for your practice area, or it may feel too aggressive.

In that case, another way to ask is to do a “referral bypass,” and yes, that’s something I just made up.

Instead of asking for a referral to a prospective client, ask for a referral to a professional or business owner who sells to or advises people in your target market.

The kinds of people who may know people who need your services, now or in the future.

When they say they have a friend who sells insurance to medical professionals (if that’s your target market), ask for a few details and if the friend sound like someone you might like to know, ask if they would introduce you.

Or, tell them you’ll look them up and ask if it would be okay to mention their name.

Contact the referral, introduce yourself, tell them you have a mutual friend or client or colleague, and ask them to tell you more about what they do. If all goes well, at some point they’ll ask you to tell them more about what you do.

What do you say when they ask that question? How do you answer when someone asks, “What do you do?”

There’s a right way to answer that question and you can read all about it in my book, How to Sell Your Legal Services in 15 Seconds or Less.

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How to get more referrals without asking for referrals

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Three things I know about you:

  1. You understand that your clients and contacts could send you more referrals than they now send you;
  2. You know that asking for referrals is an effective way to get more of them, and
  3. You don’t want to ask.

What if you could get more referrals without asking or saying anything?

You can. I promise.

All you need to do is give your clients and contacts information—a report, a letter, a brochure—that explains:

  1. The services you offer, problems you solve, and benefits you help people achieve. Provide examples for each problem and/or service.
  2. The types of clients and cases that are a good match for you, and how to recognize them.
  3. What to do when they recognize someone who might need your help, now or in the future. Tell them what to say, what to tell them about you, and the best way to refer them.

In other words, write something that tells your clients and contacts what you want them to know and do, and makes it easier for them to do it.

When you do that, you will get more referrals.

If they have sent you referrals before, they will send you more.

If they’ve never sent you referrals, they will be more likely to start.

Your report or letter tells them everything they need to know and tells them that referrals are a normal part of your practice and a simple way to help the people they know get the help they need.

Bottom line: more referrals, without saying or asking for anything.

You can learn what to put in your report or referral letter, how to distribute it, and other strategies for getting more referrals, here:

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Get more referrals with this simple marketing tip

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You don’t have paid sales people but you do have clients and contacts who are willing to help you bring in business.

They’ll make direct referrals. They’ll tell others about their experience with you. They’ll notice when someone might need your help and give them your website.

They’ll do that more often when they know what to look for and what to say.

That’s where you come in.

You need to educate people about your services. Make sure they understand what you do. Make sure they know what kind of problems you solve and what to say to someone they think might need your help.

If they don’t know who to speak to or what to say, you’re making it difficult for them to spread the word about you in a way that is likely to produce results.

Tell people about your services. Tell them how to recognize someone who might need your help. And tell them what to say to them, even if that’s just, “ask them give me a call”.

You don’t need to push. Just get the information into their hands. Give it to new clients, post it on your website, talk about it in your newsletter.

Your clients and contacts want to recommend you. Equip them to do that and they will.

How to get more referrals from your clients

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4 lists that can grow your practice

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You want new clients. You want everyone you know to refer clients to you, send traffic to your website, and promote your content and events.

You want introductions to centers of influence in your niche or local market. You want invitations to be interviewed and speak or write for publications that serve your target markets.

You might want help with advertising, website or computer matters, writing, or presenting. You might want help getting organized or learning or troubleshooting computer programs, or recommendations for hardware, apps, or methodologies.

Whatever you want, it should go on a list, the first of four:

  1. WHAT I WANT

List number one will remind you to think about what you want and train yourself to recognize people you know and meet who can provide it.

Keep this list in front of you and look at it often because you get what you focus on.

  1. HOW I CAN HELP

You should also maintain a list of ways you can help your clients and contacts besides your legal services.

What do you know they’d like to know? What skills do you have that can help them? What kinds of introductions and referrals can you give them?

This list will help you become proactive in helping people. When you help your clients and contacts, they’ll help you.

  1. WHAT MY CLIENTS AND CONTACTS WANT

Your clients and contacts want things, too, and their wants and needs should go on another list.

What kinds of clients or customers do your business and professional contacts want? Who would they like to meet? What information would help them, personally or in their business life?

You can use this list to help them get what they want. You’ll know who to refer to them, who to introduce to them, and what kinds of information to send them.

  1. HOW MY CLIENTS AND CONTACTS CAN HELP

This list is a record of what your clients and business contacts can do for you and your other clients and contacts.

What do they know? Who do they know? How can they help people?

These four lists will help you help others. They will help you to be an effective matchmaker, content creator, and business contact.

You’ll be able to do things for your clients and contacts most lawyers don’t do and build the kind of network and practice most lawyers will never have.

When you help others, you get more repeat business and referrals

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Trust me, I’m a lawyer

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If people don’t trust you, they won’t hire you. At first, they may give you the benefit of the doubt, especially if you were referred to them, but that trust can be lost in a heartbeat.

My wife used a referral service she likes to have some roofers come out for an inspection. First one, great. On time, friendly, plain spoken. He showed her photos of some minor issues that need work and gave her an estimate. She liked what he said and he’s in the running.

Yesterday, the second one showed up (from the same referral service), but there was a problem. He couldn’t get up on the roof.

It seems he had a short, fold-up ladder, which he transported in the trunk of his car, and it wouldn’t reach. When my wife asked why he didn’t bring a longer ladder, he explained that he would need to drive a truck and the gas would be too expensive.

Yikes.

He said he could send someone with the truck later in the week. Right, after experiencing this guy’s bewildering lack of preparedness, we’ll sit around waiting for one of his guys to show up.

Needless to say, he didn’t get the job.

If you’re in a competitive field, where clients talk to more than one lawyer before making their choice, consider that prospective clients aren’t looking for a reason to hire you so much as a reason to disqualify you.

It doesn’t take much for them to do that.

If you are unprepared, if you squawk about your costs of doing business, if you say or do anything that says “unprofessional,” that’s it. You’re off the list.

And anything can knock you off that list.

Someone doesn’t like your photo on your website because you look mean, or there is no photo so they can’t look at your eyes, or you didn’t call them back right away, or you yawned on the phone and sounded like you didn’t care.

Anything.

Am I saying you have to meet certain minimum standards to even be in the running? Yes. Getting the basics right only gets you in the game. If you want to get the job, you have to do even more.

Yes, it’s hard. You have to be ever vigilant and pay attention to detail. When you are in a service business or a profession, it’s not just the quality of your work or the results you deliver that count, it’s the entire client experience.

Which begins with trust.

Want more referrals? Do a 30-Day Referral Blitz

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A better way to ask for referrals

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You’ve heard me say that when you ask for referrals, you get more referrals.

I’ve heard you say you don’t want to ask.

Well, there are ways to “ask” without asking.

When you write an article or blog post, for example, and share a success story about a case you handled, you can casually mention that said case or client was referred to you by another client who had a similar case or situation and received a positive outcome.

Your reader sees that you were successful in helping two clients with that problem. They also see that your clients refer other clients to you, suggesting that they can, too.

There are many other ways to “ask without asking,” and, if “asking” makes you uncomfortable, you should avail yourself of them. They are spelled out in my Maximum Referrals course.

Now, if you’re not uncomfortable asking for referrals, from clients or prospects or professional contacts, when you do ask, I have a tip for you:

Be specific.

Don’t simply ask, “Do you know anyone who needs an attorney?” That’s too broad and begs the listener to say no.

Instead, when you’re speaking to a small business client, for example, ask if they know a couple of business owners or execs who might need help protecting their assets or re-negotiating their lease (or with the legal situation you’re helping them with).

Being specific makes it more likely they’ll think about someone they know in the context of your services. You can then ask for an introduction or ask them to give them your card.

Another way to be specific is to help them think about people they know in a given context: from work, from church, in their neighborhood, or their customers or clients.

“Do you have any clients who might need help with. . .?”

Now, here’s another way to ask for referrals without asking. You can do this in person, on the phone, via email, or in your content:

“If you know anyone who could use [help or advice] with [a legal problem or situation], tell them go to [web page] to download a copy of my free report [problem-solving, benefit oriented title]. . .”

Reframe “asking” into “offering” and you’ll get more people sending people your way.

For more ways to get referrals without asking in Maximum Referrals

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