We know and are comfortable with the idea that the legal industry is a business of relationships. Lawyers do good work, their clients talk about it (hopefully) and that brings them other clients. That’s the basic principle behind the standard “word of mouth” reputation.

But with the introduction of technology, and in particular, social media, the way that we form first impressions of people and build the relationships that lead to referrals has changed. It’s not simply about doing good work anymore – it’s about whether your online reputation matches your offline reputation, and meeting people where they are. Let’s look at two pieces of this, referrals and first impressions.

Referrals

As someone who espouses social media, something that I hear fairly often is “But am I really going to get BUSINESS from using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc?”
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A question I get ALL the time is whether using social media actually has any impact at all on referrals and business development.

Actually, the way it typically goes is this:

Come on, really. Tell me. Does anyone get matters or referrals because they post to LinkedIn?”

The short answer is yes, sometimes, it does happen. But it’s really atypical. Anyone who tells you that lawyers need to be using social media because clients see them there and hire them there is selling you something. But it IS part of a bigger picture, and as part of that picture, it’s essential. 
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Like with any relationship, the relationship you have with your law firm network will give back what you put into it. (This is true for any informal referral networks too, by the way)

While we wholeheartedly advocate that you join a network with the goal of being able to better serve your clients by offering them a broader level of expertise, and a vetted source of trusted partners around the world at a moment’s notice, we recognize the reality that many firms, of course, are also interested in receiving referrals, and working together with their fellow members to develop new business. While it’s a nice idea to think that you can join a network, tick a box, and sit back and watch the work roll in, the truth is that unless you’re in a jurisdiction where business is naturally incoming, this is unlikely to happen unless you put in some work. The network can and will help you facilitate your relationships with other members and will supercharge your networking and business development efforts, but there are some key strategic steps you can and should undertake to leverage your network membership. These ideas can also be applied to any informal referral networks that you may have. 
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Most of us are familiar with a typical referral – a lawyer that you’ve built up a relationship with who has need of your practice expertise or a client with work in your jurisdiction will call you up and ask for your assistance. At times, they will pass your name directly to their client to contact you directly. In either scenario, it is a one-to-one relationship from one party to another.

This is the way that many firms outside of, and sometimes inside of, law firm networks view the referral concept and on which they were founded. Networks were developed to build cohesive, collaborative environments that foster the strong relationships that make these referrals possible. Globalization in the legal market in the late 1980s and beyond required either this model, or mergers with larger firms, or firms opening offices in overseas’ markets. 
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Today’s Rainmaking Recommendation from rainmaking coach and trainer, Jaimie Field is one that I LOVE. It takes a little bit of extra initiative, but once you get it going, it will be something you both enjoy, and is part of your regular routine (and can reap some serious dividends).

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Last year, the movie “The Breakfast Club” celebrated its 30th anniversary.

For those who haven’t seen it (and I cannot image that is a lot of people), it is about 5 high school students from different walks of life who get sentenced to a Saturday detention where they find they have a lot more in common than they thought.

Why am I bringing this up in the context of referrals? 
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5cde60f6Seeing Jabez LeBret at last week’s Legal Marketing Association Annual Conference reminded me that I needed to catch up on my Legal Coffee Break podcasts – if you’re not yet familiar with it, the Legal Coffee Break podcast is a concise, less than ten-minute, update on legal marketing, technology, and other issues in the legal industry, hosted by GNGF founders Mark Homer and Jabez, with Jabez being the primary voice to this point.

Episode 26 discusses two things that are important to lawyers, and how they have changed with the advent of technology: referrals, and first impressions. Since Jabez talks about issues that I regularly address with my own lawyers, this one particularly stuck with me. 
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We’re back today with another rainmaking recommendation from expert Jaimie Field! My apologies for the radio silence the last few days – our 2016 Asia Pacific Regional Conference required my full attention, and I’m still catching up before I head off again next week to the Legal Marketing Association’s Annual Meeting, where I’ll be reporting back from with some valuable content over the next several weeks. So stay tuned!

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For the past few Rainmaking Recommendations we have been taking about referrals:

Today, I want to discuss Strategic Referral Partnerships.
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It’s the first Wednesday of March (when did THAT happen?), so you know what that means! It’s time for a rainmaking recommendation from expert and coach, Jaimie Field. Jaimie is continuing her discussions on one of my favorite subjects, referrals, so this is a recommendation not to miss!

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In the last Rainmaking Recommendation, I mentioned that there is one sure fire, free way to grow your book of business – referrals.

I also said that I would continue this conversation so that you create a systematized way to get the best referrals from clients, prospects and referral sources.

However, in order to move to that level, first I think it’s important for you to understand why people give, or don’t give, referrals.
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