Leverage what you’ve got to get what you want


You have a network—your clients, prospects,  colleagues, friends, business contacts—and everyone in that network is a conduit to growing your practice. Your clients can send you referrals, your business contacts can introduce you to their counterparts, your social media friends and followers can tell their friends and followers about you and direct them to your site or offer.

All you have to do is ask. 

Want to grow your email list? Ask your subscribers to forward your email to people they know who might be interested in your newsletter or report. 

Want to get get more sign-ups for your webinar or presentation? Tell the ones who have already signed up you want to get more people to attend and ask them to help by getting the word out.

Don’t hesitate to ask. People are willing to help.

When you sign up a new client, give them extra business cards to give to people they know who might need your help. Yes, that’s asking.

If you want to get interviewed on more podcasts, email your list and say, “I’m looking to get on more podcasts about (your subject). Do you know any podcasts that might like a guest on this topic?”

After you are interviewed—on a podcast, blog, or other outlet—ask the producer or host if they can recommend other podcasts, blogs, or meeting holders that might be interested in a guest or speaker on your subject. 

Everyone you know (and meet) knows other people who need or want what you offer. Get in the habit of asking everyone to refer or recommend you or your offer and you will never run out of opportunities to get more clients and grow your practice. 


Get more referrals by making it easier to get more referrals   


All things being equal, the easier it is for your clients and contacts to refer clients to you, the more referrals you’re likely to get. 

You have to be “referable” of course—get good results for your clients and provide good “customer service”–but even when you do, if the mechanics of making a referral are unclear or difficult, you simply won’t get as many referrals as you could. 

How can you make this easier?  

First, teach your clients and contacts how to recognize someone who might be a good fit for you. 

Give them a profile of your ideal client—their legal situation, their background, and what they typically say or do before looking for an attorney. 

Second, equip them with tools and resources they can use to show people what you do and how you can help them. Give them handouts they can hand out, links they can forward, and articles and videos they can share. If you do presentations, make sure they know when and where they are available, and how to sign up. 

Third, because you also want your clients to tell people about you or answer questions about you, give them the language they can use to do that. 

Teach them what to say to describe you, your practice areas, your services and offers, how you helped them, and why they recommend you. 

Most of your clients and professional contacts know people who need your help. They want to tell them about you. Make this process as easy as possible and you will get more referrals. 

Here’s how to do it


It’s easy and well-worth doing


We’re talking about “edification”—the art of making other people look good by saying nice things about them. 

When you introduce someone to a client or friend, or introduce a speaker to an audience, and edify them, the other person or the audience sees them as more valuable, worth listening to, knowing, or hiring. 

And when you edify someone, your kind words and the graciousness with which you deliver them also make you look good. 

It doesn’t have to be exhaustive. You can simply mention a few of the speaker’s or other person’s accomplishments. Tell them about their book, their business or practice. Tell them about an award they received or a notable victory they obtained, or quote what others have said about them, e.g., testimonials or reviews. 

What do they do that helps people? What is their mission? What is something about them you admire?

You don’t have to exaggerate. Just say something laudatory and true. 

If you don’t know them, you need to learn something about them you can use when you introduce them. Read their bio or their “about” page, or simply ask them what they would like you to mention when you introduce them. 

Of course, the best edification occurs when you’re able to relate your personal experience with that person, or what your clients, business contacts, or friends have told you about their experience with them. If you refer a client to another lawyer, for example, tell them what that lawyer has done for you or for your other clients. 

In short, tell other people why they should listen to the person, watch their training or presentation, sign up for their newsletter, buy their products, or hire them.  

One more thing. 

You should also equip your clients and contacts to edify you. 

Give them information they can use when they introduce you or refer people to you. Even better, give them the kind of experience as their lawyer or friend that makes them want to tell everyone about you. 


The power of one


Every one of your clients can send you at least one referral, or introduce you to someone who can. Some clients will send you a lot of referrals. Some won’t send you any. But if you get an average of just one referral from every client during their “leftime” as your client, you’ll never run out of new clients.  

Each client will “replace” themself. 

It’s the power of one. 

And it should be one of your goals. 

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Easy math. But how do you make this happen? 

Start by reminding yourself that every client knows people who have, or one day will have, a legal situation you can help them with. Everyone knows people they can refer. 

They also know other influential people they can introduce to you and those people have clients or customers or personal contacts they can refer. 

Everyone knows one or more insurance agents or brokers, CPAs, real estate brokers, or other lawyers. They know business owners and executives, pastors, and other centers of influence in their industry or local market. 

And each of these folks can refer clients to you even if your original client can’t.

Your clients can also refer people with legal situations you don’t handle. You do commercial bankruptcy, for example, and they know someone with a tax problem or who needs a divorce. If they refer that person to you, you can refer this would-be client to another lawyer you know, which can lead to that other lawyer reciprocating and sending you business they don’t handle. 

Referrals can come from anywhere. And people can always lead you to other people. 

Referral marketing isn’t just about the people you know, it’s about who they know. 

When you have a new client or prospect or business contact, find out who they know. You should have a form for that. With prompts to ask about their professional contacts, colleagues, and others in their industry or market. 

If every client or prospect gives you the name of their insurance broker or real estate agent, for example, you can contact them and (with permission), tell them you have a mutual client. That’s the first step towards getting referrals from them, and being introduced to their circle of contacts..

Everyone you know can send you (at least) one referral, or lead you to someone who can. 

It’s the power of one. 

How to get more referrals from your clients


It’s an investment, not an expense


Yesterday, I talked about following up with prospects and clients before, during, and after the case or engagement. Most lawyers get it. But many lawyers don’t do it because it takes a lot of time. 

I say it’s worth the time because it helps you get new business, keep clients from leaving, and generate positive reviews that can multiply that effect.  

But (surprise) lawyers are busy. Even if they want to do it, it’s too easy to let it slide. 

I mentioned having an assistant do it. Have them make the calls, send the emails, and otherwise manage follow up and other marketing activities for you. Yes, there is a cost, just as there is a cost to you if you handle this function yourself. If you take an employee away from their other work, that work might fall through cracks and cause problems. 

I say it’s worth the risk because the benefits outweigh that cost. Especially if you have a reasonable volume of cases or clients. 

Think about it. Do the math. If you hire someone part time and pay them $4000 per month, and they’re able to save one case or client per month or get one client to return, your costs would be covered, wouldn’t they? And if that assistant is able to stimulate clients to provide more reviews and more referrals, and this generates two additional cases (or saves) per month, you would double your investment. 

Over time, these numbers would compound.

You know I’m a big proponent of making referrals a primary marketing method for most attorneys. If you’ve read me for a while, you also know that you can stimulate referrals without explicitly talking to clients about the subject. But, let’s face it, talking to clients about referrals is a powerful way to get more of them. A lot more. 

If that’s not something you want to do, have your marketing assistant do it for you. 

I built my practice primarily with referral marketing. A key to making that happen was delegating as much as possible to assistants. 

It was an investment, not an expense. And it paid off in spades.

How to talk to clients about referrals


Unforced errors


We needed some work done on our house and got a couple of bids. Company number one made a compelling presentation and a reasonable bid (compared to what we expected based on our initial research). Company number two had an even better presentation, and we went with them even though they had a significantly higher bid. 

NB: It’s not just about price or fees; you can get more customers or clients by doing a better presentation. 

One thing that made the difference is the way the salesperson at company number two followed up with us after his presentation. He called and texted and emailed and showed us he was at the top of his game. 

They did the work, and we’re happy with it. The building inspector who came out afterwards told us (without prompting) that the company had done excellent work. 

So, we’re happy. But puzzled. We haven’t heard from the salesperson or anyone else at the company since we authorized the job. 

Leaves you feeling like a commodity instead of a client. Slam, bam, thank you sucker. 

Anyway, not following up with us was a mistake. And not just because there’s a cooling-off period and we could have canceled the job if we got cold feet. Following up after the sale gives the company the opportunity to keep the customer happy and take a step towards creating a “lifetime” customer or client instead of just another entry in the ledger. 

We didn’t hear from them after the work was done, either. No calls to see if we’re satisfied or had questions. 

And that’s another mistake. 

To this day, weeks later, they don’t know if we’re happy. Or have other work we want to talk to them about. Or have a neighbor who might like to talk to them. 

Nothing. Not even a note thanking us for our business.

Or a request to provide a review or referrals.

If they had asked for a review, we might have mentioned that the building inspector volunteered that they did a great job. Thorough and tidy. Very reassuring to a prospective customer who sees that review. 

But now, because the company didn’t ask, no review. 

If this is how they operate on every sale, they’re missing out on a lot of additional business. A cautionary tale for anyone in a service business or profession. 

It’s so simple. Call the client after the work is done (or have an assistant do it), see if they have additional questions or concerns, send them some brochures or a referral card they can pass out to people they know, and if they’re happy, ask them to leave a review. 

The only thing worse than not doing some simple after-sale follow-up is what company number one did after they emailed us their bid. 

They did nothing. 

They didn’t follow up to see if we want to go ahead with them, had any questions, or needed help with financing. They didn’t ask if we went with another company and, if so, why. 

And now, weeks later, they haven’t followed-up with us to ask if we’re still interested (and hadn’t hired anyone). Or if we went with another company, had problems, and needed to talk to them about fixing it. 

Follow-up during the presentation process, after the deal is signed, and after the work is done. Or after the prospect doesn’t sign up. 

Never stop following-up. Because tthe fortune is in the follow-up.


Some can, some can’t; some will, some won’t


No doubt you’ve figured it out: not everyone can and will send you referrals.

Some clients love you and are willing to help, but don’t know anyone with a legal issue requiring your services. Or they know people, but those people can’t afford your fees. Or they can, but your would-be referrer doesn’t have the skills or influence to make referrals happen. 

Put this on your list: 

“Teach my clients and contacts how to recognize my ideal client and how to refer them.” 

And then there are clients and contacts who know people who clearly need your legal services, and can afford you, and those contacts have the skills and influence to make those referrals happen. 

But they don’t want to. 

Maybe they have another lawyer they work with, or maybe they don’t know you well enough yet to trust you to do a good job for their contacts. 

Put this on your list: 

“Build more trust with my clients and contacts so that they are willing to send me referrals and introduce me to their contacts.”

Something else. 

Some people know people who need your help, have the ability to refer them to you, and they are willing to do so.

But they don’t. Why?  

Usually, it’s because they’re busy and it simply doesn’t occur to them. Or they don’t think you have enough work and don’t need or want more.   

Put this on your list:

“Make sure my clients and contacts know I appreciate referrals and want more of them.” 

Note that these people already know you and will read something you send them, and you can do that through the mail or email or in a newsletter.

You don’t have to talk to anyone if you don’t want to.

While you’re pondering this, imagine how much new business this can create for you and how much easier and less expensive your marketing will be when you get (a lot) more referrals. 

If that sounds good, start with this


Build family to build your practice


Your clients and former clients, your professional contacts, everyone who knows your name and would take your call—that’s your family.

One of the simplest and best ways to grow your practice is to grow your family. 

That means (a) increasing their number, and (b) increasing the strength and depth of your relationships

And you do that by going out of your way to serve them and help them, not just with legal matters but with other areas of their business or personal life.

Make them feel good about themselves for hiring you or referring people to you

You also increase their number by looking for opportunities to meet the people they know—their employees, partners, friends and colleagues. People they can introduce to you and who can become a part of your ever-growing professional family. 

As your family grows, look for ways to get to know these people better and help them. Give them referrals, advice, and introductions. Give them helpful information and stay in touch with them.

In other words, by networking with the people you know and the people they know., your family will grow and so will your practice. 

What does it take to do this successfully? 

You need to be willing to talk to people who aren’t necessarily in need of an attorney, and be genuinely interested in them and not just what they can do for you. You need to be a good listener, because that’s how you show them you are interested in them and how you learn what they need or want so you can help them get it.  

And you only need to find a few.  

Yes, you need to talk to more than a few to find that few. But just long enough to learn what they do to see if they might be a good match for you.  

Find a few of the right people and they can lead you to more.  

To start, commit to getting to know your clients better than you do now. Call or email them off the clock, say hello and ask how they’re doing. Don’t be surprised when they’re glad you called and ask you about a new legal matter or tell you about someone they know who might need your help.  

If that happens, enjoy the win. But don’t contact them solely for that purpose. Contact them to say hello. 

Heres a step-by-step plan for growing your professional family


Talk it into existence


There’s something to be said for being the “strong silent type” and letting your work speak for itself. There’s also something to be said for talking about what you do and how you help people. 

Because people who need your help want to know what you can do to help them.

That doesn’t mean you should talk about yourself all the time. We all know people who do that and wish they would stop. It does mean finding ways to communicate the benefits you offer without talking about them directly. At least not all the time.

An effective way to do that is to collect and use testimonials and reviews from satisfied clients, and endorsements from lawyers and other influential people who know you and your work. 

Let others do (most of) the talking for you.

You can also share success stories about the cases and clients you’ve helped. Not to brag, but to illustrate what you do in the context of real cases and clients. 

Success stories are implied testimonials.

You can also use this strategy to get more referrals. 


It’s simple. When you talk about a case you’re handling, or have done in the past, simply mention that the case was referred to you (by a client with a similar case, or by another lawyer, etc.) 

This tells people that others think enough of you and your work that they tell others about you. It suggests that you have experience helping people with the same or similar issue.

You get more referrals not by asking because you are “referrable.” 

What else can you do to talk it (referrals) into existence? When you sign up a new client, give them some extra business cards (reports, brochures, etc.), and say, “I’m giving you a few extras in case you talk to someone who needs my help”. 

That’s it.

You plant the seed that they might speak to someone who needs your help and equip them to tell them about you.

How to get more referrals from your clients


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