Size doesn’t matter

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I’m talking about your list of professional contacts. It’s the quality of your contacts that count, not the quantity. A list of 10,000 people who might recognize your name (or might not) isn’t nearly as valuable as a list of 100 who will take your phone call, reply to your email, or smile when they see you. 

You know, people who know you.

Because if they know people who need your services, or know people who know people who do, you’ve got it made. Even if it’s not a big list.

 Because it’s not who you know. . . it’s who THEY know. (And will introduce you to).

Do you know a professional or business executive who is influential in your target market? Do you know them well enough to ask for a favor? 

Great! Ask them to introduce you. 

If you know the name of someone they know you’d like to meet, ask them by name. “You mentioned you know Jack Bigtime. I’ve heard good things about him and would love to meet him. Would you be silling to introduce us?”

If you don’t know anyone they know by name, ask by category: “Do you know anyone who (describe the kind of contact you’d like to meet).” If they say they do, ask for a detail or two to get them thinking about them, maybe ask how they know them, and then ask if they would introduce you.

If they ask why, tell them the truth—you want to expand your network. Just an introduction. Not marriage. One professional meeting another, the way it’s done every day. 

You may have to talk to a few people to find someone who knows someone who would be a good fit for you and will introduce you (or let you mention their name), but all you need is one. 

Because one will lead to two. And that can lead to dozens. 

Yes, you could play the “quantity-leads-to-quality” game most professionals play, work like crazy and eventually meet someone who’s a good contact for you. But the “quality-leads-to-quality” game is much more fun, and productive. 

Here’s how to do it

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Can you rely solely on repeat business and referrals?

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Yes, you can; many lawyers do. 

They have a client base that trusts them and have enough legal work to keep them busy, and they have friends and business contacts they can and do refer. 

Nice, isn’t it? 

They don’t advertise, network, blog, do presentations, or do any other marketing. They can if they want to, and sometimes they do, but the growth of their practice doesn’t depend on anything other than doing good work for their clients and serving them well.

It takes awhile to get to that point, so if you’re a new lawyer or don’t yet have a big enough practice to generate a steady stream of business, you’ll need to do other things until you get there. I did that when I started practicing. It was hard and took a good five years, but it was worth it. 

Hold on. It’s easy to screw up. 

Clients and their businesses die, you mess up and they leave, the economy throws you under the bus, laws change, competition steals the show, overhead can eat you alive, and other factors can change everything. 

So, never take anything or anyone for granted. Assume the best, but be prepared for the worst:

  • Continually strengthen your relationships with clients, prospects, and business contacts. 
  • Ask for testimonials, reviews, introductions, and referrals, because they may not think to provide them if you don’t.
  • Create a website that tells people what you do and how you can help them and let it do most of the selling for you.
  • Build a list and stay in touch with everyone.

Finally, continually look for new ways to bring in business and increase your profits, because you never know what the future has in store.

How to talk to clients about referrals

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Remember me?

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Think about all the clients you’ve had over the years. Do you think some of them might have a legal issue or question but haven’t contacted you? Or know someone who has a legal issue or question but haven’t told them about you?

Your old clients might know where to find you when they need you, but many don’t. If they haven’t talked to you or heard from you in a while, some won’t even remember your name. If you stay in touch with them, even just sending an email from time to time, they’ll not only remember who you are, they will think of you first when they need some help.

But there’s another reason to stay in touch with them. Your mere presence in their mailbox makes it more likely that they will recognize that they might have a legal problem or question and be more likely to contact you to find out.

And unlike the multitude of strangers and cold leads in the world, you don’t have spend a dime to find these people, or have to convince them of your capabilities.

Just contact them and say hello. 

Yes, you can also offer them something, send them your new article, or ask them about their family or business. But saying hello is often enough. 

If they don’t have a legal issue or question to talk to you about, hearing from you will make it more likely that when they do, they’ll think of you before looking for help anywhere else.

Especially when you continue to stay in touch with them.

Guess what? It works the same way with “old” business contacts and newsletter subscribers.

They “knew” you once and might be happy to “know” you again. If they do, it could be the first step towards reestablishing a relationship with you, and all the benefits that go with that. 

Email Marketing for Attorneys

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Leveraging other people’s talent, knowledge, and resources

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One of the best ways to grow a law practice is to conduct joint ventures with other professionals and businesses that target the same markets and clients you target. 

If you handle family law and target high-income executives in the health-care industry, for example, you should talk to business owners, insurance brokers, financial planners, consultants, accountants, and other (non-competing) lawyers who have an established clientele and/or actively target the types of people who fit the profile of your ideal client (and the people who can refer them).

You identify joint venture candidates, find ways to meet them, and learn more about what they do. You then tell them what you do and see if there is some common ground for working together for your mutual benefit. 

This might mean conducting seminars together, sharing the costs of a mailing, or interviewing each other for your respective newsletters or blogs.

It might mean inviting each other to networking functions, co-authoring articles or books, or sending emails to each other’s lists with information or offers.

It might be keeping each other on a list of recommended “vendors” and referring to each other when a client or contact says they are looking for someone who does what you (and they) do. 

And it might simply mean providing suggestions, feedback and encouragement to each other in your individual marketing ventures.

But don’t try to figure that out right now. 

Just make a profile of the kinds of joint venture partners who might make a good fit for you. Once you’ve done that, you may discover that you already know people who fit that profile. Talk to them, tell them you think you should talk about “working together” and see what develops. 

How to get referrals from, and set up joint ventures with, lawyer and other professionals

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I know a lot of good lawyers

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Most of your clients and contacts know you don’t handle everything. If they don’t, you should tell them because you also want them to know that you know other lawyers who handle the things you don’t. 

You want to tell them this because you want them to think of you and come to you whenever they have any kind of legal issue or question, so you can refer them to (good) lawyers who can help them. 

You earn the appreciation of your clients and contacts for saving them time and sparing them the risk of trying to find a lawyer on their own. 

And you get the appreciation of the lawyers to whom you refer them, who may reciprocate with referrals to you, say nice things about you to their clients and contacts, introduce you to centers of influence they know, and otherwise work with for your mutual benefit.  

It also gives you a reason to reach out to lawyers you don’t know and learn about them, so you can expand and deepen your network. 

In a nutshell, you want to position yourself as the “go to” lawyer in your market for anyone who needs legal help. (And yes, you should also do this with non-lawyers who serve your market). 

In sum: 

  1. Tell everyone that you know a lot of good lawyers and encourage them to contact you when they have a legal issue or question of any kind
  2. Create a database and collect information about the lawyers you know and want to know
  3. Periodically connect with your lawyer network to (a) get updates about what they’re doing and how you can help them (and their clients), and (b) update them about what you’re doing and how they can help you (and your clients)
  4. Ask your growing network “who do you know I should know?” and ask them to introduce you

Your success doesn’t depend on what you know so much as who you know (and… who they know). 

How to build and grow your lawyer network

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The power of one

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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

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Give it time

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I’ve heard it takes 3 to 4 years to fully get to know someone. If that’s true, it means that a lot of people you “know” you’re really just starting to get to know. 

And you should give it time. 

As you get to know them (better), and they get to know you, your relationship can grow from new acquaintances to solid business connections, referral partners, and friends. And that might take awhile.

True, sometimes you hit it off immediately. The circumstances are right, the chemistry is right, and while it will probably take time to fully know each other, you can tell there’s something there and it’s worth it.

But that doesn’t happen often. 

Which means we shouldn’t be so quick to judge someone, or make up our minds as to where they might fit into our life.

What do you do while you’re giving things time to develop? Asking about their business or family. Sending them information about things they might need or want. Asking if they need help with anything. Inviting them to meet for coffee. Or just staying in touch.

And not expecting them to do the same for you. 

Not everyone will reciprocate. You might reach out often, promote their business or cause, offer to introduce them to someone they should know, or send them a boatload of goodies, and they might do none of that for you. 

That doesn’t mean you can’t have a relationship. 

Keep the fires burning, or at least keep them from going out. One day, they might need your help with something, or reflect on how much you’ve done for them already, and realize how much you mean to them. 

And this could be the start of your “romance”. 

But don’t expect (or demand) more from them. Let the relationship develop naturally. 

If the day comes when you realize that things aren’t going anywhere—they don’t return your calls or respond to your email, they don’t show appreciation for anything you’ve done, back off. Give them less time and attention.

But don’t shut the door. 

Keep them on your list of people you stay in touch with (via email, predominately), and reserve personal time for other folks who have shown you they want you in their life. 

You might hear from them eventually. The time might finally be right for them, which means it’s also right for you

If not, that’s okay. There are plenty of other fish in the sea. 

The Attorney Marketing Formula

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Maybe you need some new friends

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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

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Information is overrated

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The people who regularly follow you on social, subscribe to your newsletter or blog, watch or listen to your videos or podcasts, don’t do it solely to get information. No doubt they get plenty of that from you already, and they know they can get more by asking you or doing a quick search. 

They read or watch your posts or messages for information, but also because your words provide them a brief mental vacation. For a few minutes, they don’t have to think about work or their troubles. They can hear something interesting or encouraging or entertaining. 

Information is important. But it’s not everything. 

When you spend time with people you know (or want to meet), at a networking event or socially, you don’t fire up your brain and start firing off information. You don’t deliver a lecture. You chat, you catch up, you share interesting things you’ve heard. 

Your subscriber is that friend.  

If you want them to look forward to hearing from you, consume everything you write, share your content and links, and think of you first when they have a legal issue (or know someone who does), give them more than just information. Help them take a mental vacation. 

Email marketing for attorneys

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It’s just a letter. From a friend.

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Content marketing doesn’t have to be complicated. Or take a lot of time. You don’t need to invest in a lot of paraphernalia or time learning how to use it.

In particular, you can start a newsletter using your regular email and add recipients as bcc’s. Once you have several hundred emails, and are convinced you want to continue, you can use a service to automate everything.

So, no excuses. Write an email, as you would write a letter to a friend or client or business contact, and share something—an idea, some news, something interesting you saw online or heard around the water cooler, or just say hello and hope they are well, and click send.

Don’t promise to send another letter. Don’t commit to a schedule. The purpose of writing is for you to see how easy it is and how nice it is when people respond and tell you they like what you said or thank you or ask a question.

It’s about staying in touch with the people who are important to you. It’s about the relationship.

A newsletter is the best way to build relationships with hundreds of people simultaneously.

And while some of the people you write to might write back and tell you they want to talk to you about another legal matter, or have a friend who needs to talk to you, don’t expect anything like that to happen.

But don’t be surprised if it does.

Don’t make this transactional. Don’t offer anything or ask for anything. Plenty of time to do that later. If you decide to continue.

Right now, it’s about putting your toe in the water, not jumping in the deep end.

Right now, it’s about writing a letter to a friend.

If you’re ready to do more, this shows you everything you need to know

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