During coaching sessions I always ask clients “did you thank (so and so) for that referral you just mentioned?” Sometimes the response is “oh yeah, I need to do that.” Thanking referral sources should not be something you have to remember to do. It should be automatic. Best if you have a system in place that kicks in when you get a referral.

Nancy Myrland has an article in this month’s ABA Law Practice Today entitled “A Seven-Step Referral Recognition Program.” As she so correctly points out “Referrals are timeless, critical and obtainable if you follow some simple steps to encourage them.” They are also the major source of business for any law firm.

Nancy’s seven steps:

  1. Do great work so clients will want to refer others to your firm (some call them “raving fans”);
  2. Let clients and other contacts know that your business relies on referrals (if you’re hesitant or shy in doing that, see my earlier post “Use ‘We’ vs. ‘I’ In Asking For Referrals”);
  3. When referred a potential client, call or email acknowledgement and that you will keep them informed (I prefer a call or handwritten note thanking them for recommending your firm);
  4. Within “two days, send whatever your Level One Referral Recognition gift is” to the person who referred (Nancy is obviously a generous person, and must have tons of dough, as I would thank the person, but hold the “gift” for when you land the potential client);
  5. Schedule the meeting with the potential client, and let the referrer know about it and that you will keep them informed as to how it goes – thanking them again, of course;
  6. If you are retained, send a Level Two Referral Recognition (or cheapo Kane’s “only level”) gift with another handwritten note of thanks; and
  7. Once or twice a year, send special cards to all your referral sources thanking them for their previous support and how much it means to you.

Don’t be like a firm I heard about in New York that had received 10 referrals from another firm, and never bothered to thank them once. Think about how you would feel, and how long you would continue to refer work.