In the process of turning the people you know and the people you meet into referral sources, start with your business and social contacts, but don’t stop there. Expand your list of potential referral sources to include people you don’t know—yet.
Marketing out of School
One group to tap for potential referral sources is former classmates and other fellow alumni, especially from college and law school. Classmates share a common bond with you, even if you didn’t know them in school. Because of that bond, when they receive mail or email from you, they will at least give your message a look.
Find or create a list of your classmates and other fellow alumni. Some schools publish directories. If no directory is available, start a list from your yearbook if you have one. If you have no yearbook, start your list from memory and add to it as new people come to mind. Attend law-school alumni events, meet as many people as you can, and get their cards. Add them to your list. As you talk to classmates, other names will come up. Write down those names before you forget them. Evaluate your fellow undergrad alumni as prospects, taking into account where they live and work and the kind of work they do.
Clients Beget Clients
Don’t forget your past and present clients. They know better than anyone what kind of work you do and how well you do it. If you treat them well, they will tell their friends how pleased they are with your representation. Although lawyers can’t send everyone away happy, we can do as much to leave our clients with the best possible impression. When the case is over, gently encourage them to refer their friends. I once saw a sign in a car wash that said, “If you are happy, tell everybody you know. If not, tell us.” Try to convey that message.
Remember to seize the many marketing opportunities that present themselves by chance. When you run into people you know, stop and say hello. Ask about them, and they will ask about you. Get their contact information.
For more tips, check out our article “Marketing Your Law Practice Part 4: Developing Your Referral Sources.”