Referrals can serve as a wonderful source of qualified leads for your law firm.  In an age of digital marketing, many attorneys ace social media, yet struggle to build the strong and lasting connections needed to create a steady stream of referrals. Far too many regard referrals as “just happening,” rather than as the end result of a concerted effort to build rapport throughout the local and professional communities.

The good news? While building an effective referral strategy takes time, it’s not nearly as out of reach. A little effort can spur impressive results. Aim for a strategic approach, in which referral sources know exactly what you want — and why. These strategies will help:

Build Your Network

Sometimes, the question itself isn’t so important as who you ask. Successful queries are more likely if you maintain a strong referral network consisting of fellow attorneys, former clients, and anybody else capable of delivering strong leads for your firm. Prospecting always involves some element of vulnerability or discomfort, but this can be mitigated by seeking referrals from those you already know and trust. Networking is crucial, as is keeping in touch with existing contacts.

Be Specific

Referral marketing isn’t merely a matter of numbers. Resist the urge to focus exclusively on the number of leads that you secure, as you might not always be able to follow up on or make the most of these. Rather, prioritize your effort to secure the exact clients you desire. This begins with an effective “ask” that helps your referral partners know exactly what you need. Both you and your referral sources should demonstrate a mentality of quality over quantity, with partners only sending prospects your way when they truly believe that they align with your niche.

In addition to knowing which types of clients you desire, your referral sources should understand how their information can best be forwarded to ensure a quick conversion. This process could look dramatically different from one firm to the next. Some attorneys, for example, prefer to begin with three-way interactions involving the referring lawyer, in hopes of establishing a sense of trust early on. Others strongly prefer the streamlined nature of automated solutions.

Follow Through

As with any marketing initiative, a consistent approach will likely produce results over time. Not every request will be successful — and that’s okay. By simply reaching out and asking valued clients or fellow attorneys for referrals, you establish a basic awareness of your desire for additional clients. Build your search for referrals into your marketing approach just as you would with social media updates or other outlets.

Following through doesn’t simply mean making good on your intention to ask for referrals — it also means tracking the referrals you ultimately receive or send out. This helps you maintain a more purposeful approach and determine where referrals are most likely to arise. From there, you can better tailor your strategy to reflect which referral marketing tactics work best for your law firm.

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