If You Want Better Referrals, Be a Better Friend

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Lawyer Client RelationshipEvery lawyer I know wants more referrals.  But few know what to do to receive more referrals.

Lawyers believe referrals happen serendipitously.  They just appear out of thin air.  You do a good job for enough people and legions of supporters will go forth from your office and recommend you to people they find in the street.

Obviously, that’s not how it works.

I work with many excellent lawyers but only a couple of them receive a substantial amount of referrals from past clients.  Those who are best at it have a process in place.

Here’s how it works:

First: Provide a great experience during your representation of your client.

The practice of law is adversarial.  Your relationship with your client is not.  You need to provide a great experience for your clients when they engage you.

You must treat your client like he has given you the most important thing in his world – his trust.  What you do with that trust is critical.  Do you honor it by partnering with the client to help improve his situation?  Do you respect it by taking every interaction with your client seriously?  Do you answer every question as if it is the most important question your will be asked today?

In some cases, a lawyer looks at his representation of a client as a job and an interaction with a client is a task, necessary to complete your work for that day. Those lawyers receive no referrals.

In other cases, a lawyer views his representation of a client as a necessary act in order to achieve a greater good.  These people also receive no referrals.

In many cases, a lawyer accepts a client because he believes in them and their matter and he zealously represents that client while remaining emotionally distant.  These people receive no referrals.

Then in the final case, a lawyer connects with his client on a personal (and emotional) level.  He may not agree with the client or the client’s actions or approach, but there is a connection.  That’s called trust.  Those people receive lots of referrals.

Next:  Communicate before, during and after your representation.

This is where most attorneys fail.  They do not communicate effectively.  They get busy and the first thing that breaks down is their communication with the client.

Communication before the client comes on board is marketing.  This sets expectations and positions your relationship.

Communication during representation is critical.  You need to let your client participate in his matter and the way you do this is through communication in line with the expectations you set at the outset of your relationship.  Set clear expectations.  Live up to those expectations.

Communication after representation is the reason some lawyers receive referrals and other lawyers don’t.  You need to keep in touch with your clients after your representation of them is over.  This communication keeps you present in their mind and brings back the memory of the great experience you provided.  If you have engaged that client emotionally, they have invested their trust in you, keep this relationship active by continuing to communicate.

Finally:  Respect the person regardless of the situation

People need to maintain their dignity.  Sometimes good people, under pressure, do unfortunate things.  Never mistake the action for the person.  If you treat everyone with respect and keep the relationship in focus, you will not go wrong.

Each person with whom we work has a network of at least 250 people who know them, like them, and trust them.  The way you handle your relationship with your client will determine the amount of referrals you receive.

Do you treat him like he is a paycheck or do you treat him like he is a friend?

Here are three other articles you should review:

How to Replace a Lost Client

We all lose clients from time to time.  How you respond to a lost client means everything.  Here is a step-by-step guide to facing and reacting to this adversity.

Are You Worth the Risk?

Clients must overcome several different types of risk before they hire you. Have you made the case for your client to select you as an alternative to other “risky” choices?

Do You Know How to Target Referral Sources?

If you want referrals you need to target referral sources.  Figuring out who the good referral sources are and what you can do to engage them is a big part of law firm marketing.