How can lawyers and accountants generate more referrals?

How can lawyers and accountants generate more referrals?  Simple.  By getting networking right!

It may sound controversial, but I think too many professionals are still missing the point of networking.  Networking isn’t about winning work (at least not immediately); it’s about making new contacts and starting more conversations.  Over time and with the right conditions it’s about creating a network around you that will organically create referral opportunities.

What does this mean? 

It means casting your net wider than just over potential clients.  It means identifying the people who can introduce you to prospective clients, people who operate in the same world as you, that know the people you want as clients.

The term ‘target rich environment’ is a good one but the success lawyers and accountants generate from networking will multiply massively if you use a broader definition of ‘target’.

What types of contacts generate more referrals for lawyers and accountants?

The Americans have an awful term, ‘key influencers’.  The only thing is, it’s probably the best description of who you’re looking for! 

Who are the people who influence the people you want to influence?  These could be other professionals, they could be the people who are always asked to speak at events, they could be bloggers, journalists or authors, they could be trade associations, office/hub/incubator managers or they could just be the people who are always at the events you’re at.

The one thing all these people have in common is they are well connected.  As such, if you get close to them, you will immediately get closer to their contacts.

Better still, you will position yourself for easy introductions.

In my view introductions are the ultimate result lawyers and accountants can achieve from networking.  How much easier is it to be copied into a “you must meet …” email or to be asked to join a few interesting people for lunch or to accompany your contact to a smaller more intimate event than it is to cold call or walk up to someone you’ve never met? 

Exactly!

When I’m illustrating this in BD coaching sessions with lawyers, accountants and patent and trade mark attorneys I always tend to use a story I was told years ago by someone I was working with.  They’d just come back from an event and told me there wasn’t anyone worth meeting.  So who did you meet I asked.  “Just an insurance broker and a journalist” was the reply.  In that case, I said, you met two very interesting people!

This is what I mean about thinking more broadly. 

All the insurance broker’s clients were potential introductions because the broker specialised in my client’s target sectors.  And all the editor’s readers were all potential targets operated within my client’s target sectors.

Both of these contacts could have put my client in a position to influence their clients and readers.  Both could have been a conduit to interesting new contacts and conversations.  But, because my  clients still had that “went networking, didn’t get any work so networking doesn’t work” mentality,  the potentially huge rewards went begging.

If you are interested in creating a BD culture that’ll allow your lawyers or accountants to generate more referrals, we can run networking training sessions with your fee earners or provide a bit of 1on1 coaching to build up their confidence.  Please get in touch and we can find a convenient time to talk.

Published by sizetenandahalfboots

Douglas is a director of Size 10½ Boots, a specialist business development agency that works solely with the professional services, helping firms grow by winning more new clients and more work from the clients they already have. Although every project is different our work generally falls into one of three camps - strategic marketing support, BD training and 1on1 coaching and independent client research.

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