Get more referrals by doing something referable


Referrals aren’t limited to someone (a client, colleague, friend) telling someone else about you and encouraging them to call you about their situation or question. Referrals also occur when someone tells someone about something you did or said.

Something interesting, noteworthy, or helpful. 

Because when people share that, it is a referral by another name. 

When a client tells a friend about the case you are handling for them, about your upcoming event, or even about a humorous situation you told them about, it might prompt the people they tell to realize they need to talk to you about a legal situation. 

That’s a referral. 

When people hear your story, example, how-to, or interesting nugget of information, they often pass it along to others. 

And while this can and does happen organically, you can make it more likely to be passed along by putting your story or nugget in writing and sending it to your clients and contacts.

Some lawyers call this a newsletter. But it can also be delivered via a blog, a handout or mailer, or in a presentation. 

Start by collecting things you do throughout the day, or things you hear or read that might have some interest to or benefit for your clients and contacts or the people they know. Be especially alert for things that are remarkable, timely, humorous, or contrary to conventional wisdom. 

Anything surprising is a good bet.

Make it easy for them to share by summarizing it in sound bites or bullet points. Tell them what it means and who might want to see or hear it. Give them lists, flyers, or reprints, and make sure everything includes your website and contact information.

You don’t have to do anything more than share your story or nugget. If it’s interesting enough, the people you share it with will do the rest. 

How to get more referrals from your clients


The best way to grow a valuable network


Every lawyer in private practice wants to develop a network of business contacts, referral sources, and influential business connections. People who can lead them to others and lead others to them.

Ready for some good news? 

You don’t have to have a massive network to accomplish that. If they are the right people, you only need 5 or 10.

The right people are those who know have influence with people in your target market and are willing to work with you.

That means they like and trust you and want you to prosper, or believe you can be of value to their clients and contacts.

These people are worth their weight in gold, which is why you only need a few. 

Where do you find these folks? Generally, not at formal networking events. The kinds of people you want to meet rarely attend these. 

The best way to find influential people and connect with them is to deliberately target them. 

That means identifying high quality prospective clients in your target market, or people who sell to or advise them, and creating a plan to meet them. 

Sometimes, that can be as simple as contacting them and introducing yourself. But the most effective way to meet them is to talk to your existing network and find out who knows them and will introduce you, or let you use their name. 

Where do you start? By identifying twenty or thirty key people in your target market. Make a list, study them, and create a plan to meet them. 

What then? What do you do after you meet them? You find out what they need or want and help them get it. 

That’s where the work begins. 

It may sound daunting, but this is a lot easier than trying to build a network of hundreds of people who aren’t influential or won’t work with you.

Find out the top twenty or thirty people in your target market and focus on them. Because you only need a few.

How to find and meet lawyers and other referral sources in your target market


Come with me if you want to live


You want your clients and contacts to see you as someone they can count on when they are in trouble, need help or information. Legal advice or anything else—business advice, referrals or introductions. Whatever they need, you want them to contact you first, so you can help them or help them find someone who can.

Why would you want to do something that seems so time consuming and may not lead to legal work? 

Because it might indeed lead to legal work, but you won’t know that if they don’t contact you. 

And while it might not lead directly to legal work, it might provide give you someone you can refer to another lawyer and that lawyer might then reciprocate and send you a referral. 

Helping your clients and contacts this way might also lead to goodwill, which eventually leads to legal work, e.g., traffic to your site, growing your list, filling seats at your event, or other things that bring you more leads or business contacts. 

And hey, what’s the alternative? People ask for something and you turn them away? 

Bad karma. And bad business. 

For starters, make sure you tell your clients, prospects, and business contacts to call you about any legal matter, because “I know a lot of lawyers in other practice areas.” (If you don’t, this is your chance to go meet some.)

If you have the ability to refer 5 or 10 clients a month to other attorneys, even if it’s just to get some questions answered, do you think that might bring you some referrals from those attorneys?

If it takes up too much of your time (it won’t), you can stop doing it. But you won’t want to. Because the more you help people, the more people will help you. 

Prove me wrong. Try it for 60 days and see what happens.

Once you see good things happening, teach your clients and contacts to call you if they need anything else—an accountant, a real estate or insurance broker, a financial advisor, a vendor or business, or. . . anything.

You want people to call you first because it’s good karma and good for business.   


Every dud knows a stud


In the corporate and legal worlds, employees and pre-qualified before they are hired. Prospective clients and customers are similarly screened, to determine their needs and wants and ability to pay. 

In the network marketing world, however, prospective distributors aren’t pre-screened or pre-qualified because it is a waste of time. 

You never know whether a prospective distributor will sign up in your business, or if they do, if they will get to work. 

And it doesn’t matter because it’s not about them, it’s about who they know and can lead you to.

Your friend might have no interest in becoming a distributor, but might know people who are very interested. You talk to your friend and find out who they know.

Because duds lead you to studs. 

Yes, we’re talking about referrals. 

Lawyers should pre-qualify prospective employees and prospective clients, but not prospective referral sources or business contacts, because it’s not about them, it’s about who they know.

You might meet a business owner who doesn’t need your services, but they can lead you to people who do. Or to people who know people who do. 

Guess what? The same is true of your clients. They might not be able to send you referrals, but might know people who can. 

When you embrace this idea, you understand that it’s not about anyone you know or meet, it’s about who they know.

Your job is to find out who they know.

How to get more referrals from your clients


Simply the best


You are the best in your field. The most talented, the most successful, the most dedicated to your clients. 

That’s why your clients hire you; that’s why prospective clients should do the same. 

Unfortunately, you can’t go around saying you’re the best. Even if it’s true. 

You want others to say this about you. Which is why you should do everything you can to obtain testimonials, positive reviews, and praiseworthy survey responses from your clients, and endorsements from prominent people (especially other lawyers).

It’s also why you should get yourself invited to be interviewed by centers of influence in your niche and be seen in their company. 

If you say you’re the best, people will doubt you. Maybe laugh at you. If your clients and others say you’re the best, it must be true. 

Not only does third party praise help you bring in more business, these kinds of comments give your clients a warm and fuzzy feeling knowing that they made a wise decision to hire you.

It also means you’ll attract higher-paying clients and a lot more referrals, because you’re not just competent, you’re the best. 

Don’t be shy about asking your clients for reviews and testimonials. If they’re happy campers, they should be happy to provide them. But you have to ask because they may not know how important this is to you.

And, while you’re collecting these, you can create the same effect by liberally adding client success stories to your articles, posts, presentations, and other content. That’s where you describe a client’s case or situation before they came to you and how you rescued them and made everything better. 

Set up a file to collect emails and quotes from people who say something nice about you. Thank them, tell them how much it means to you, and ask, “May I quote you?”

Happy clients are the foundation of a successful practice


Maybe you need some new friends


Jim Rohn said, “If you wish to be successful, study success.” A good place to start is by studying successful lawyers. 

Some lawyers are great marketers. Some are great at managing their practice. Some have other skills that have helped them build a happy personal life. 

You would do well to identify, learn from, and emulate the ones who know what they’re doing, as long as what they are doing is consistent with how you work and what you want to build. 

It might be someone you know. Spend more time with your successful lawyer contacts. Ask them what they’re doing, find out the systems and methods they use, ask them to recommend vendors and resources, and follow in their mighty footsteps. 

It might be someone you would like to know. Ask your contacts if they know them and ask them to introduce you. Or just pick up the phone and introduce yourself. Tell them you liked their article, ask a question, or congratulate them on their recent victory.

Sometimes, you can learn from someone without ever speaking to them. 

Study their articles, their website, their advertising, their webinars, and anything else you can find about them. Discovering their secrets might be as simple as reading their book, watching their videos, or subscribing to their newsletter.

And there are other ways you can benefit from networking with successful lawyers. 

You can learn about their practice areas and markets. Find out who’s who and what’s what.

You can promote each other’s content, events, and practice. 

You can become workout partners, holding each other accountable to doing what you said you intended to do. 

Or you can help each other with learning how to use an app, sharing templates or forms, or providing feedback about your new project. 

At the very least, other lawyers can inspire you and show you what’s possible. Having a successful lawyer to model gives you a track to run on.  

What if you’re not sure you have something to offer in return? 

But you do. 

You can promote their practice, without asking anything in return. Send them referrals if you can, write about them on your blog, interview them for your channel. 

You’ll get their attention. And earn some of their time. And take the first step towards a mutually rewarding professional relationship.

And maybe a new friend.

How to get referrals from other lawyers


The best marketing method for attorneys


Every other marketing method requires your time, your money, or both. They also require time (and money) learning how to implement, maintain, and scale that method. 

Networking, advertising, blogging, social media, speaking, writing articles or books–you name it– all require you to do something and/or spend something. 

There’s only one method that doesn’t. 

You know its name. You hear me speak it enough. You know I built my practice primarily with this method. 

Yes, I’m talking about referrals. 

Getting referrals doesn’t require you to write anything, say anything, or do anything other than your job. 

Do your work, do it well, and your clients will refer other clients. So will your professional contacts.

Just do your work and your practice will grow. 

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do anything to make referrals more likely. There are a lot of things you can write or say or do, and you should consider them, but you don’t have to do them if you don’t want to. 

Give your clients some extra business cards, or don’t. Tell your clients about your other practice areas or services they may not be aware of that their friends might need, or don’t.

Do your work, do it well, you’ll get referrals and your practice will grow.

But referrals don’t scale like an ad campaign or go viral like social media, you say?

Au contraire. 

Referrals beget referrals. Referred clients are themselves more likely to provide referrals, so, as your practice grows, that growth compounds. 

You might get more leads and prospective clients via advertising or other methods, but at what cost?

I’m not saying you should rely solely on referrals. Just that you could if you want to. 

How to get more referrals from your client (if you want to)


Activating client referrals


If you treat them right, many of your clients will tell others about their great experiences with you. They’ll also give you referrals, post positive reviews, send traffic to your website, promote your events, and otherwise help your practice grow.

But not everyone will do that.

Some clients don’t know you want this kind of help. (True). Some don’t want to “share” you with others. (Also true). Some are willing to help, but don’t know what to say or do.

And some won’t do anything, even if they love you to pieces. Just the way it is.

So that’s it? You take what you get? Do good work and hope for the best?


While organic word-of-mouth is best, there are things you can do to get more clients to talk about you and (directly or indirectly), send you more business.

First on that list is to educate clients, prospects, and professional contacts about you.

They know some things; make sure they know more.

Inform them about all of your practice areas, services, and offers. Your clients might not need something, but talk to someone who does.

Tell them why your clients get better or quicker outcomes from you, or other features and benefits not available from other lawyers.

Share your success stories, testimonials, and reviews, showing how you’ve helped others, why they chose you, why they would hire you again, and why they recommend you to others.

Tell them about endorsements you’ve received from other lawyers and judges, business leaders and respected individuals in your niche or local market. Tell them about your awards, the books you’ve written, and your speaking and writing credits.

Second, when someone does something nice for you, e.g., referral, review, etc., go out of your way to acknowledge them (publicly, if appropriate), and genuinely express your gratitude.

That doesn’t mean a form letter.

Send a hand-written thank you note. Say something nice about the friend or client they referred. Take them out to lunch or send them a small gift—a book is a good choice.

Show how much you appreciate what they’ve done and they’ll be more likely to do it again.

Third, make it easier for them to spread the word. Equip them with language they can use to describe what you do and for whom you do it. Give them handouts, links to your best blog posts or articles, forms and checklists they can share.

Fourth, do all the above more than once. Because people forget and because over time, they make new contacts who haven’t yet heard about you.

Finally, do what you can to make it more likely that prospective clients and referral sources hear your name from others, so that when your client mentions your name to them, they’ll recognize that name.

The simplest way to do this? Niche marketing. Go deep into business or industry groups, for example (even if you don’t handle business matters), because word-of-mouth is strong in niche markets.

For more about how to stimulate word-of-mouth, get this


Onboarding new clients


No doubt you give new clients information about what will happen with their case or matter—a general timeline, a list of steps, what to send you, what to expect, when you will update them, how to reach you in an emergency, and other do’s and don’ts.

This is good because

  • It helps you do a better job of protecting and serving them
  • You’ll have fewer issues because of misunderstandings
  • You can better manage clients’ expectations about what will happen, and when
  • Your clients will be impressed by your thoroughness and professionalism, and thus more likely to trust you and follow your instructions
  • Your clients will feel well taken care of, and thus more likely to stick with you, refer you, and say good things about you

One benefit you might not have considered is that you’ll get more referrals doing this because the information you provide shows that referrals are a common and makes the process easy and non-threatening. (See Maximum Referrals for more.)

As I say, I’m sure you do this. But you should do it more.

More means providing this information in more formats:

  • Handouts you give them or mail them
  • Email autoresponder sequence (break it up into smaller pieces, sent over time)
  • FAQs on your website
  • A dedicated ‘new client’ section of your website
  • Videos, webinars, audios

More also means

  • Sending the information every few weeks or months, to make sure they have it, haven’t misplaced it, remind them to read or listen, and to see if they have questions
  • Talking to them about parts of the instructions when they are in the office or on the phone
  • Sharing success stories about how your clients are benefitting from this information
  • Giving them forms and checklists in addition to written instructions

This is important because people

  • Lose things
  • Don’t read everything
  • Don’t understand everything
  • Need to be reminded to read things and do things
  • Process information differently (all at once vs. drip, read vs. video)
  • Are often distracted by life, especially when they are occupied by a legal issue
  • Might not realize how serious you are and need to hear it again and again
  • Might have trouble explaining what you want them to know or do to people who need to know and/or assist them; (tell them to share your information and let you explain it)

The more you do this, the better your clients’ experience will be with you and your staff. Which is good for them and good for you.

It means extra work, but you’ll be glad you did.

How to talk to clients about referrals


Leveling up your referral game


Yesterday, we talked about the value of educating other lawyers about your practice area, to build your reputation and get more referrals. You can do that, I said, by disseminating information, e.g., reports, checklists, that helps other lawyers understand your field, spot issues, and answer their clients’ basic questions.

But there’s a lot more you can do.

If you want to be perceived and followed and sought after as the go-to expert in your field, you can do the kinds of things experts do.

Number one on that list is to write a book.

As an author, you will, by definition, be an authority. Your book is a doorway to requests for interviews, being invited to speak and sit on panels, and otherwise expand your reach.

When you are introduced as “the lawyer who wrote the book on. . .”, you are at the top of your game.

Publishing a book is also a great way to get more leads, both from other lawyers and other centers of influence, and also from prospective clients.

If you’re not ready to do that, or perhaps while you are writing your book, there are other things you can do to establish your authority and get more referrals.

You can conduct seminars, start a podcast, or write blog posts, teaching lawyers the basics, discussing changes in the law, and answering questions. You can interview others in your field (or your client’s industry), and offer downloadable resources (which helps you build a list so you can stay in touch with these prospective referral sources).

If you’ve got enough to share, and the quality is there, you can even turn these into paid seminars.

Your object is to establish yourself as the go-to lawyer for all matters related to your field, and you can start with a single video, blog post, or seminar. You’ll begin to build a following and, before long, one of your followers will ask you to look at one of their cases or speak with one of their clients who needs your help.

Lawyer-to-Lawyer Referrals