Pop quiz: Who are your best referral sources? List the top 10 right now. If you are a more junior lawyer in a law firm and don’t yet have your own clients, list the senior lawyers for whom you do the most work.
How easy did you find it to make this list? This information should be at the tips of your fingers. If you don’t know who your top referral sources are, your activity this week is to find out.
How often do you talk with the people who most frequently send you business? One of my clients recently realized that his top three referral sources send him seven to ten substantial matters a year, resulting in several hundred thousand dollars of business. And then he realized that as he’d become busier, he spent less time maintaining the connections that had helped to build those referral relationships.
Sure, he sent business to his top referral sources, he attended meetings with them frequently, and he went out of his way to send a nice “thank you” every time one of them sent a new matter to him. But he couldn’t remember the last time he’d had lunch or played golf one-on-one with these people. The business relationship was in place with each referral source, but the personal connections underlying it had grown weak.
Relationships, like anything else, are always in flux. Are yours growing closer or more distant? If you don’t stay consistently in touch with your contacts, the relationships will grow weaker and you may find that the support that you enjoyed shifts to others who are more attentive. There are no bad motives in play, but absence in business rarely makes the heart grow fonder.
Take a few minutes now to set times to check with the people who think enough of you to send you work. Make it a point to reconnect and to find out what’s going on with them. At the same time, express your appreciation for their referrals. And then lay your plans so you can be sure to check in with them at least quarterly.