How to Handle Derivative Referrals

It is well established that referrals are a very important source of business for lawyers and other professionals. I’ve written about that here, here and here.  Since legal needs are are episodic, for most attorneys, being in the right place at the right time to hear about a legal need is challenging. Having other professionals keeping their ear to the ground for services that you can provide, dramatically increases your marketing effectiveness.

It is also well established that leads that come through referrals are much more likely to turn into business.  They are pre-qualified.

Simply put, when someone you know like and trust tells you to contact another professional, you’re much more likely to contact that professional and you are much more likely to hire them.  So cultivating your own referral sources means you are more likely to get leads that are likely to turn into business.

While it is critical to cultivate relationships with referral sources (refer work back to them; thank them for the referral; find ways to connect with them socially; and even send an occasional gift), what happens when the individual or company that was referred to you has a new need that you can’t satisfy?  What happens when the referral needs another referral?

According to attorney Mark Furman, a Partner with the law firm of Tarlow Breed, if you have a potential referral to make from someone who was referred to you, go back to the original referral source.  Ask them what they would like you to do.  Maybe they have their own referral source who they want to cultivate.

The point is that you should give your original source the first right of refusal.  Then your referral source will see that you are not trying to steal their relationships and they will be more likely to refer to you again when the time comes.  It’s a simple thing but it clearly works.  I’ve been sitting at meetings of the Boston Lawyers Affinity Group of Provisors and Mark Furman seems to get a LOT of referrals (from other lawyers).  It’s clearly working for him and it can work for you.