Four Minute Fixation 10: Step-by-Step Guide to Connecting with Someone New
It happens to all of us.
You find yourself face-to-face with someone you’ve never met before.
You’re tongue-tied and your mind goes blank.
You know this person could possibly refer business to you.
You know this person is influential.
You know you need to say something to start the relationship off right.
What do you do?
People are fundamentally good natured, social creatures.
Bad experiences may have influenced our behavior and made us shy.
If you’ve ever been hesitant to start a potential referral relationship, this is the video for you.
Here is your step-by-step guide to connecting with someone new.
How Lawyers Get More Referrals
There’s a lot of information on the Internet related to marketing for lawyers. Some of that information is high quality strategic advice. Some of it is crap. Most of it falls somewhere in between.
One thing missing from all that advice is a simple tutorial on how lawyers get more referrals.
So here it is. The quick and dirty version of a process I have shared with hundreds of lawyers during the past five years:
Step One: Be Easy To Work With
Say “please” and “thank you”. Return telephone calls within one business day. Listen before you speak. Think before you send an email or text message. Respect everyone and fear no one.
Step Two: Be Loyal
Don’t steal people’s clients. When another attorney sends you a matter, handle it and then send the client back to the original referring party if the client has work in an unrelated area.
Defend people who are not in the room. If everyone is gossiping about someone, shut it down, regardless of your personal feelings about the subject of the gossip.
Step Three: Be Generous
Share your valuable relationships with people in your network. Make introductions that will lead to business. When you refer clients to other lawyers, set the other party up to succeed. Actually bring the client to the other lawyer’s office, or to lunch if possible. Otherwise introduce the parties live on a conference call.
Step Four: Be Different
If you want to be the “go to” person for a particular type of matter, you must give people a reason to select you rather than one of the other hundred lawyers they know. Differentiate yourself and your practice and let people know about that difference.
Step Five: Follow-up
Send a weekly email newsletter. Send people holiday cards and birthday cards. Invent ways to keep your name in front of them with low labor intensity for you. People may want to send you business but they have simply forgotten about you. Don’t let them forget about you.
Step Six: Ask for Referrals
Let people know that you value relationships and, you practice relationship marketing. This means your law firm grows based upon the business sent to you by people who know you, like you and trust you. Ask them if they will keep you in mind when they are presented with a case in your area. Then after you ask, go through all of the five preceding steps.
Step Seven: Educate Your Target Audience
The final step is one of the most important. Each month you should get in front of at least 50 new people and provide them with educational information that will entice them to find out more about you.
The best ways to reach people en mass are through writing articles and getting them published (trade magazines are terrific for this purpose) or speaking to large groups of people.
People will rise up from the ranks of the audience and ask you for additional information. When they do, follow the steps listed above.
That’s it. That’s my simple seven step referral process which helps with marketing for lawyers. Give it a try in your law firm and let me know how it works by posting a comment on Google+ (link below)
Is Email Part Of Your Law Firm Marketing Plan?
Email should play a critical role as part of your law firm marketing plan. Here are three ways you can use it to your advantage:
As a weekly newsletter: Email newsletters are a staple of a law firm marketing plan. Each week you should write an article that is interesting, informative and is reflective of your personality. Send this article to: potential referral sources, past clients, current clients and friends and family.
If the information is relevant to the audience and interesting, your email message will be widely read.
The frequency of your email newsletter is critical. Weekly “conversations” with your target audience is the key to building trust.
As an educational course: This often overlooked use of email is highly effective. Offer visitors to your website the opportunity to enter their name and email address into a box on your website that will enroll them in your email educational course delivered each day for X days (I deliver mine over five days). You then subscribe to a service that automatically sends out this email each time a new person enrolls.
How does this fit into your law firm marketing plan? It helps position you as a thought leader by providing educational material to your prospective clients. You help them understand how to hire the best possible lawyer.
As a client survey tool. Want to know what your clients (and past clients) think? Ask them. Responses to an email survey can be useful for developing future marketing campaigns and they can also help you detect issues with your service delivery. The same email service that you use to deliver your weekly newsletter and use to provide your educational course can also send out these surveys.
These are just three of the many ways to incorporate email into your law firm marketing plan. There are dozens of others. Implement these three today and you will be pleasantly surprised at the referrals you receive as a result.
How Lawyers Get More Clients By Referral
One of the questions I am asked most often is: “How can lawyers get more clients?”
The best way for lawyers to get more clients is by referral. But referrals must be earned. Here are five ways you can BEGIN to earn more referrals from your clients, centers of influence in the community and other lawyers.
Do Great Work
This is the minimum standard for positioning yourself to receive more referrals. There are lots of lawyers out there. Many of them do what you do. Lots of them went to great schools. Lots of them have terrific experience. If you want a referral, you have to do outstanding work.
That’s the least you can do to earn a referral.
I’m sick of lawyers who think that being “aggressive” means being a jerk. That’s just not the case. You can be aggressive and be a professional. You can be aggressive and be a gentleman or gentlewoman.
Say “please”. Say ‘thank you”. Admit when you screw up.
Be the kind of person people respect.
Keep Your Commitments
Do what you say you are going to do. Tell the truth, even when it’s tough. Return telephone calls. Meet deadlines.
Stay In Touch
People may want to send you business but they don’t remember you. Stay in touch with your past clients and your referral sources by writing a newsletter and sending it out monthly (at minimum). Send birthday cards. Send holiday cards. Call your past clients and referral sources occasionally.
If you want to get referrals, start by giving them to others. Send people business. Generously recommend people who meet the above criteria. Go out of your way to help peers and colleagues. Provide guidance when asked and support when things go wrong.
These five ways will not earn you referrals from everyone but they are a great way for lawyers to get more clients. How do you measure up to these criteria?
How to Replace a Lost Client
Losing a client is never fun but it happens to everyone.
One of the most important things you can do when you lose a client is immediately bounce back and take aggressive action to replace him. Here are three things you can do to get past the loss of a client relationship.
Call all your current clients and offer to add value to your relationship. Deepening your relationship with existing clients is a smart move. These folks have already given you their trust. They’ve hired you to work with them. You probably have an intimate familiarity with their situation. Give them a call and offer to help them with another aspect of their business/life.
This offer should be a way for you to add additional value or improve the client’s situation. You should charge your normal fee and not seem desperate. You are calling your client as one of his trusted advisors and you have valuable advice to share with him.
Call your current clients and ask for a referral. All of us forget to ask our clients for referrals. Here is a script you can tailor for your own use:
“Joe, I know you are well connected in the community. Aren’t you on the board of XYZ charity? Who are some of your fellow board members? What does Mr. Jones (board member) do for a living?
You know, I really appreciate our relationship. Since my firm does not advertise, we rely on referrals to grow our practice. I’m wondering if you have a few minutes to think about people you know who may be a good fit for my services.
Who do you know who (here you add the qualities of an ideal client) regularly uses complex agreements or contracts in their business?”
Most clients want to help but they can’t come up with a name right away. That’s why it is important to warm them up by getting them to think about the people they know in a specific business context (the question about the board of directors).
Call past clients and ask them for a referral. Your past clients have probably forgotten about you. Call them up. Ask how they are doing and explore ways you can help them. If they do not have any new work for you, go through your referral script with them.
This approach may seem forward. It may not be comfortable for you at first. In fact, you may view this as “selling” or as “self-promotion”. It is all of those things. But it is also necessary if you ever plan to grow your law firm.
It takes a confident person to use these techniques. You need to find it within yourself to aggressively bounce back from the adversity of a lost client relationship. I have a specific tool that can help you.
It is a video I recorded on this very topic.