Cultivating Referral Sources
In preparation for a presentation I’m going to give called “Cultivating Referral Sources”, I came up with the Referral Cycle. There are five ongoing actions that lawyers and all business people need to take to cultivate referral sources so that you actually get work referrals. You need to
- Meet people – face-to-face, phone-to-phone, email, or social media. The personal touch is key.
- Connect with them – Here’s where “know, like, and trust” is established.
- Stay in touch – cards, invitations, phone, email, social media.
- Ask them for something – work, information, advice.
- Appreciate them – thank them in writing, by invitation to fun events, with gifts that don’t breach your rules of professional responsibility.
Cultivating referrals is a cycle because you need to keep repeating the actions of the cycle all the time.
You can gain expertise in learning how to Ask. Experience will lead you to learn who your connectors are. Connectors, being those people who know everyone and are in the best position to refer you the kind of work you want. Then you can focus your time cultivating relationships with those people who are your Connectors. Here’s what the cycle looks like:
The reason this is circular is to emphasize the need to keep doing these things over and over again. Then you must be patient and give your efforts time to have results. Don’t expect immediate results.
Staying in touch is the most important action in the referral cycle. You need to stay top of mind so that when an opportunity to refer comes along, your referral source will think of you. The other four actions of the referral cycle – Ask, Appreciate, Meet, and Connect, require you to Stay in Touch. Thinking about different referral, developing actions helps you break down your actions into more manageable steps. And helps you lock in on the actions you need to focus on to really cultivate and help people help you build the law practice you want.