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Solo In Chicago

...empowering the Second City's entrepreneurial legal community

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Post-referral follow-up

Here's little nugget from Trey Ryder below...he has a good free e-mail newsletter if you're not yet getting it.

The below got me to thinking about this subject. I'd guess most lawyers are like me and consider referrals absolutely critical to business development whether from clients or other professionals. However, I spend less time (likely to my detriment) thinking about how to proceed post-referral. I'll always acknowledge referrals and likely will send a thank-you note and sometimes a gift card or something but my communication can be lacking....I can learn a lot from the following:


STEP #11: Acknowledge every referral immediately in writing. Why do people send you a referral? Often, it's because they think >highly of you and want their friend or client to receive the best you offer. Certainly, you could shoot off a quick email thanking the person for the referral. But that's the easy way out. When someone sends you a client, take time to write a letter. (Yes, an honest-to-goodness letter -- on stationery, no less!) Thank them for having confidence in you and assure them that you will do everything you can to help the person they referred.

STEP #12: Keep your referral source informed about your client's progress. Send an occasional note or email to keep the referrer up to date. This reinforces that you're working hard on the client's behalf. Don't let your referral source lapse into guessing what might have happened with the client. Guesses -- based on lack of >communication -- usually result in negative conclusions. Instead, keep your referral source on top of what's happening. He'll be so happy that you keep him informed that he will look for someone else to refer to you. When the case ends, make sure you send a summary letter explaining how you resolved the matter.

STEP #13: Help your referral source earn money. When appropriate, build your referral source into the process. If a CPA referred a client to you, help the CPA get added work from the client. If a life insurance agent sends you a client, point out to the client when it's appropriate for him to increase his life insurance. Your credibility goes a long way. If you can help the referral source get business from the person he referred, that's one more reason for your friend to refer another client.

STEP #14: Return referrals, when possible. No question, it's nice when you can return a referral. But today, with such high levels of legal specialization, referrals are often a one-way street. Return referrals when you can. If you can't, make sure you reciprocate in another way.

STEP #15: Pay referral fees. Money speaks with a loud voice. Make sure you abide by your Bar rules.

Summary: You build a solid referral base the same way you build a productive client base: With ongoing communication centered around your knowledge, skill, judgment and experience. When referral sources perceive you as an authority in your field, they are quick to send to you their friends and clients.


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