After getting more work or referrals from clients, the next best source of new business is from referrals from other sources. Many of the same types of business development activities you undertake for clients are effective for referral sources as well. They include: visiting their offices, seeking feedback, sending them clients, sending information of interest and newsletters, etc. etc. However, will clients and other contacts actually refer work?

Seth Godin in “How to get referrals,” says that much has been written about how referrals “are the very best way to grow your business,” yet often they simply don’t happen. Why?

Three reasons in Seth’s view:

  1. Not important to the referrer,
  2. Referrer has a lot to lose (mostly credibility) by referring a friend, and
  3. Recommending isn’t easy (as in bringing up the subject, I think he means).

So, what’s a lawyer to do?  Well actually, Seth isn’t referring (oops, sorry about that) to lawyers in the following five suggestions, but I thought I would:

  • Make it easy for someone to bring up what you do (that is, let your contacts know something unique about your practice, your practice niche),
  • Give clients something of real value to offer their friends (as in a dynamite, outstanding client service experience),
  • Paying a person to refer rarely works (and could get a lawyer disbarred, but returning the favor would work);
  • Low-risk referrals are easier than high-risk ones (so ask for referrals in a way that reduces the risk to the referrer); and
  • “Be worthy” and known as such in marketplace (if you are not known by the referral source as offering value in eyes of the community, then it is much tougher to make the referral).

 Hope there is some food for thought for you and your firm there.