When asked how one would build a referral arrangement, I usually respond that there is no easy formula for doing so. Not much of an answer I realize, but stay with me. The issue came up in the context of a request by a financial advisor to my friend Miriam Lawrence over at her Automatic Referrals blog, which serves that audience. The advisor asked how to establish such a referral arrangement with an attorney, and Miriam asked me if I would like to take a shot at answering. You can see my response on Miriam’s blog.

Realizing the topic may be of interest to my readers as well, I address the issue here with minor changes.

Referrals, whether they result from other professionals, such as attorneys, accountants, physicians, brokers, real estate agents, etc. or from clients or other contacts, depend on relationship building. And that takes time and work.

Thus, my advice is pretty straightforward. To build referral relationships requires (to borrow an idea from the real estate industry) contact, contact, contact. There are a myriad of legal marketing tools and techniques one can use to accomplish that. If it is someone you just met, you can initiate a wave of contact by following up on a meeting, calling periodically to ask advice or share an idea, sending articles or other information likely to be of interest, and any other thing you can think of to grow the relationship. Don’t forget about entertaining. Always a good one.

Of course, the old lawyer business development techniques, such as speaking, writing, networking, and joining targeted organizations will all provide you the visibility to meet and build relationships with potential referral sources.