Independent Thinking: Leverage Your Network to Increase Referrals

November 27, 2012

With the New Year fast approaching, now is the time to design a contact-strategy to rekindle “lost” connections and deepen new relationships, efforts that should pay off in increased referrals in 2013.

Create a “Master” List

Over the past year you’ve likely met a number of new people, for whom you probably have incomplete contact information spread across business cards, email accounts, your mobile phone, and social media.  First, consolidate all of your contacts into one “Master” list containing contact name, physical address, email address, and phone number.  The list should also contain an indicator of where the base record for that contact is stored.

Identify Subgroups

Add a column to your list that classifies your contacts.  How you classify them will depend upon your specific practice, but at a minimum you’ll need to identify clients, prospects, and other legal professionals.  This will enable you to easily segment your list when creating mailing labels or flagging subgroups for a specific communication.

Set a Budget

Next, set a budget.  If you don’t have a big budget, plan to rely more on electronic mail and non-targeted broadcasts, such as Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc.  But if you have the budget, mixing traditional and electronic messages will be more successful—electronic communication is rapid and inexpensive but traditional mail has staying power and if done right, allows you to stand out from the crowd.

Develop a Goal, a Theme, AND a Call to Action

Without a theme AND a call to action, your communications will be ineffective.  This doesn’t mean it should be “CALL TODAY” to every contact; it is ok to just remind your network that you’re alive and well.
Also,  set an overall goal such as “increase referrals from network by 10%” or “transition top five prospects into clients” to inform your tactics.

Identify Tactics

Tactical marketing /contact ideas abound on the internet and in legal marketing books.  Make a list of all that appeal to you.  Then, use your budget and your personal style to narrow down the list.  Stick to tactics that reflect who you are as professional and as a person.  Deploying tactics that are incongruous with your professional image could come off as odd or, and at worst will cause your target to question your professional stability or the genuineness of your personality.

Create and Adhere to a Contact Schedule

Taking your list, theme, budget, contact source, and tactics into consideration, create an annual contact schedule.  Determine:

  • How often you will contact a group or subgroup
  • What message you will send
  • When and how you will deliver it

You’re better off sending a few high-quality, tailored messages than numerous generic messages.  Optimally, plan to send consistently themed messages to each subgroup delivered across multiple channels on a regular, but not too frequent, basis.   To keep yourself on track, add columns to your master list for the target contact date, message, and channel.

Add a Personal Touch

Attacking communications at the global level outlined above allows you to maximize your efforts across your network.  Although it sounds daunting, use your master list to personally contact each and every person in your network at least once throughout the year.  It’ll be worth it! You’ll not only reconnect with friends, you’ll uncover new opportunities.  Practicing law is a personal business and you’re offering a personal service, don’t be afraid to get to know your contacts on a personal level. 

Follow Your Plan!

Your plan provides a framework for you and your staff to follow to adhere to a consistent, cohesive communication strategy.  But, a plan is just a plan – make sure you take the steps necessary to put your plan in action, you’ll be glad that you did!

*Image courtesy of jscreationzs at


Other posts by Connie:
Independent Thinking: Newly Solo? Use Your “Downtime” Productively >>
Independent Thinking: Breaking out- Expanding into a new Practice Area >> (part 1)
Independent Thinking: Breaking out- Expanding into a new Practice Area >>  (part 2)
Independent Thinking: Breaking out- Expanding into a new Practice Area >> (part 3)