Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Beyond the Referral Network

"How do you get most of your legal business?" is a question I frequently ask attorneys and other law firm professionals. In the past three weeks I've asked this question to dozens of as part of our participation at Association of Legal Administrators (www.alanet.org) events in Orlando, Miami and West Palm Beach, Florida.

"Referral from other attorneys," is the most common response to the question. It's true that many attorneys and law firms make a very nice living by waiting for leads to come in from other attorneys. As the law becomes more specialized, this practice will undoubtedly become more pronounced.

It can take quite a bit of time to build a referral network to the point of robustness. When properly maintained, an attorney should have an extensive list of prioritized (A/B/C) referral sources. "A" referrals are current producers you should be communicating with monthly. "B" referrals are less mature sources that you are grooming and/or periodic producers that warrant coffee or lunch every 90 days or so. "C" referral sources should be on your newsletter mailing list.

But wait! There's another question to be asked. If a law firm is doing well with referrals, that means you may be leaving money on the table. This is particularly true if you don't pursue any or many other business development campaigns.

The question is, "What else can I do to get more business?" Business development takes time, and you need to plant a lot of seeds. Try adding at least one more marketing program, whether it is a newsletter, educational seminar, or publishing an article. Keep trying to stretch for more. Only then will you be able to create a truly integrated legal marketing program that can get you through the good and bad times.

As we always say, legal marketing is a process and not an event. Never stop marketing!

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