As a lawyer, in addition to the network of clients and potential clients that you’ve built, you’ve also built a network of referral sources. This may be formal or informal (or more likely, both). One of the most overlooked opportunities for further developing your relationships with these sources of referrals is content – not only does it help you to get to know these sources better, but it also provides you with collateral that you can use with your primary client/potential client networks.
Before you dive into the following recommendations (and, of course, as a best practice for leveraging any relationship-building activity), I suggest that you identify your goals – what are you looking to achieve and what are the key practice/industry areas/jurisdictions that you and your firm are focused on. For example, if you really get along with an IP lawyer in London that you met at a conference once, but you’re hoping to develop more clients in M&A from Brazil, then it doesn’t make sense to reach out to the former, except as a friend.
- Get inspired: When we refer to content, this can mean articles, blog posts, podcasts, video, client alerts, etc. Content refers to the universe of items produced by you and your colleagues that you share with your clients, potential clients, and the legal or business community that is designed to educate them on your area of practice or industry. Use the content that your fellow members or referral sources are creating as a springboard for your own commentary – as you would with outside inspiration, cite your fellow members or referral sources and add your own thoughts on similar laws, recent legislation, decisions, etc. for your own jurisdiction that may similarly impact your clients. This highlights collaboration, as well as your own expertise. Don’t forget to then send your content back to the original authoring firm to share with their own clients as well, and to the network (if formal or semi-formal) itself to share more broadly.
- Share referral source content: This is particularly effective when you’re in a formal or semi-formal network – take the content that other firms are authoring or producing and share that with your clients and potential clients, as well as internally with your colleagues. You don’t have to share everything but include targeted, relevant articles, alerts, etc. in your firm’s newsletters and alerts to showcase the breadth of your firm, the expertise of your fellow members, and get your clients to begin thinking regularly about referrals and multi-jurisdictional opportunities. Not only does this benefit others, but they may realize that because of the reach your firm has, they can come to you for work that they would have taken elsewhere. Similarly, ask if your referral sources will consider doing the same with your content.
- Co-author content: The goal with this suggestion is to reach out to one or more of your referral sources and work together on that content that you’re already producing – write an article together that showcases your expertise, co-host a podcast where you invite clients as guests, collaborate on a blog. Get creative about the ways in which you create content, which will allow you to get to know each other better, and then you can share that content externally with clients and potential clients – this not only reinforces your bond, but it showcases the breadth of your abilities as a lawyer by your access to other experts.
With so many of us still in a lockdown of some type, content is a great way to build and leverage the relationships that we have in order to showcase the breadth and depth of our reach. I particularly love the idea of two firms in a network with a shared goal starting a podcast together to interview their clients or get to know each other on a deeper level. What other creative ideas can you identify to use content to further your referral relationships?