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Gimbal's Tip of the Week

The Lean Law Firm Blog

E55: Referral networks

industry challenges Oct 21, 2020

Many lawyers struggle to keep their business pipeline full. They are so focused on current client matters that they forget to nurture the relationships that will bring them business. Because they are not looking ahead and planning, they constantly worry when and if the next client will come through their door.

Everyone, regardless of where they are in their career, needs a referral network. A strong referral network will help you keep your pipeline full, reducing your stress and improving your success.

Recently, we have focused our weekly tips on improving activities that make up the bookends of your practice, things like pricing and client value, finance and accounting, legal technology, and business development. While none of these things directly touch your legal advice and services, getting them right is critical to your success.

Because there’s so much that lawyers need to know that we never learned in law school, we are continuing this theme of giving you quick, practical tips and advice that will improve your bookends. Even if you focus only on improving those, you will build a more productive and profitable practice.

Want to watch this tip instead?

A couple of weeks ago I talked about actively maintaining and working a list of prospects. That tip that was inspired by Tea Hoffmann. Tea is one of the industry experts who regularly coaches the community in our Practice Accelerator Membership. This week’s tip on referral networks is a compliment to Tea’s advice on prospect lists, you can read that article here.


My Top 3 Tips for Nurturing Your Referral Network


  1. A referral network works best when you treat the relationship as a two-way street. It should not be all about you. Indeed, it is probably easiest to establish a network if you start out helping others first. You do not have to be in real estate law to refer people who want to buy, sell, or lease property to brokers in your network that you know and trust. The hope is that, over time, those brokers will refer their clients who need legal work done back to you. Again, you do not have to be offering real estate services to be of benefit to the broker’s clients.


2: Maintain regular contact. You will significantly improve the potential of your referral network if, as with your list of prospects, you keep in regular contact with and really get to know the people in your network. You want them to be a source of valuable and timely intelligence that will alert you to new opportunities. And, of course, you also want them to actually refer clients to you.


Invest some time getting to know the most active people in your network on a personal level. You want to earn their trust and respect. Deepening your relationship beyond the very superficial “Hey, how’s it going?”, and a few quick words about the news, sports, and weather, will help you do that.


3: Thank people properly. Be sure to properly thank each person who refers work to you, whether or not you actually accept the work. Yes, you hope to repay each referral in kind, with a referral of your own. But it is also a really nice gesture to send a token of your appreciation…a bottle of wine, some flowers, a basket with an assortment of fruit or of meats and cheeses, or something like that. And you will know what to send them if you’ve already gotten to know them more than superficially. Aim to thank them with something you know they like or are interested in.


As an added touch, take a few minutes and hand write a quick Thank You note. We have become so digital that very little real mail comes in the door these days and a handwritten note from you will almost certainly be a novelty. It will help you stand out and keep you top of mind.


If you already have an established referral network, then use this tip as a prompt to reach out and connect with one or two people in your network today. If you don’t already have a network, then spend some time right now drawing up a short list of people you know who could be a source of clients for you. Then identify those who you can help out first, call them up, and start nurturing your relationship.


Practice Accelerator

If you have found the tips we’ve been sharing recently from the Membership’s expert coaches helpful, then join the Practice Accelerator Membership. Each month, you will enjoy a Masterclass, coaching from Karen and me, and coaching from our one of our experts on business development, pricing and project management, legal technology and more. Everything is carefully designed so you can build a more efficient, profitable, and productive practice quickly.

The Membership will not be open again until early 2021, but join the waiting list today, since we might just be making a special Halloween offer which will only be available to people on the waiting list.

If you would like to get tips like this delivered weekly straight to your inbox, sign up here!

Thanks a lot everybody! See you next week.



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