Yesterday we talked about referring clients that you could not easily help to other attorneys. I suggested you do this to help the other attorneys and to provide a solution to the client’s problem. This is a way for you to grow your practice by being known as someone who makes referrals and someone who focuses on one or two areas of the law.
Today we talk about building your network of other attorneys in your city. This may not seem like a way to build your clientele, but it does work to get your name known in your area. Most attorneys will only refer to other attorneys that they personally know. Your job then is to meet more lawyers and to become acquainted with them well enough that they think of you when they need to refer someone out of their firm.
1. Become a member of your local bar association.
The practice of law is a lonely business. Most small firm or solo practitioners rarely see other lawyers. In order to counter this, many lawyers join the local bar association of their area. This allows lawyers to meet one another and to gain legal education. The members that benefit from bar associations are those that attend the meetings. Attending the meetings helps lawyers to meet and get to know one another. This is the first step to gaining referrals.
I am much more likely to refer you new business if I have met you and know you and what you do. Anyone can check out a webpage and give a name or two. However if the attorney gives a ringing endorsement to her client about you, you are half way to having a new client.
2. Meet the other people there.
When I go to an event, I have in mind to meet at least three people at the event. When I get to three, I know I have done my duty and can relax. I can usually accomplish this by sitting at a table and meeting the people around the table.
The object of the exercise is not to meet everybody in the room. The object is to meet people and learn what they do. Then when the times comes, to have someone that you can refer a client to in the future.
3. Follow up with the new people you meet.
At the event, I will ask for a business card and on the back of the business card I will write down something about the person that I can remember later. Does the person have a dog, do the kids play soccer, did she win an award? These little things help create a relationship.
Then BEFORE the next time we meet at the next bar association meeting, I refer to the cards so that I can ask them about what we talked about the last time. This allows the relationship to grow. I find out more about that person and she finds out more about me. This also lets me know if this is the type of lawyer I want to send clients to or not.
As we discussed in previous posts, you cannot be all things to all people. By developing a network of attorneys that you can refer to, you increase your reach and credibility in the community. In addition other lawyers meet you which helps them to remember you when one of their clients needs something you offer.
Which ways do you meet other attorneys?