Let’s face it, not too many of us likes to really go out there and ask for referrals but on the other hand we need referrals to keep our business afloat. What kind of practice you have matters not in this case because it’s all the same ~ clients drive the business. You might think to yourself, “but everyone needs a ______ so surely they will come if I open my doors.” Perhaps. Perhaps not. Do you really have the savings to hope people will come to your door?
Several years ago I took a tele-course with Lynn Grodzki and Wendy Allen. Their book, “Twelve Months To Your Ideal Private Practice” is an excellent resource and I had been impressed with the book even though at the time I had zero desire to make my full-time living via private practice. When we got to the pieces around marketing I remember saying, “oh no way, I can’t do that!” Several others in class chimed in too that it all seemed far too scary and awful. Over time we talked through how to manage both the feelings and skills of marketing, which was a good thing. Still don’t love marketing but now its easier to see it as a necessary piece of doing business.
In the years since I’ve picked up some tools to make marketing more bearable for me. In learning about referral sources and cultivating relationships with other professionals you’ll begin the practice of getting referrals from those same sources. Let me share of them with you so you too can start to get referrals that work best for your practice.
- Identify and be able to articulate what it is you do. Sounds easy but sometimes its not. If you’re an estate-planning attorney then be ready to not only say that but to explain what that means. You’re taking this step so that you can readily introduce yourself to potential sources of referrals.
- Combine your outreach efforts with something you love to do or at least don’t find awful. Lynn and Wendy urged us to make the task of marketing more do-able by combining it as necessary with something we do like to do such as writing, teaching, or hosting. One of my classmates liked to host gatherings and she would invite potential referral sources over to her place of business for afternoon tea or drinks and along the way discuss what it is she does and what kind of client benefits from her services.
- Keep your name out there. Offer brief consultations for other professionals, be willing to be a resource guide, keep your business cards in their hands and don’t forget to follow-up with a thank you. If you have a brochure or resource from a referral source be sure to display it in your office; good will goes a long way.
- Casual, fun conversations that aren’t related to “I’d love it if you could please refer clients to me” are a good way to build a strong relationship. Take care to make the calls when it’s less likely to be a busy time and be sure to ask. Even more helpful? Try to have a bit of news or fun information about a topic you’ve spoken about in the past.
- Keep a stash of business cards from your referral sources handy and be sure to leave your cards with them. An attorney I frequently refer to was shocked the other day when I asked for more of her cards; who knows when they will be used but those cards are now out in the world, circulating and potentially bringing her business some day soon.
- A suggestion that I’ve read about but not yet done is to give a ‘shout out’ to a referral source of yours in social media such as LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter. Sounds like an interesting suggestion!
There is no perfect way to market but if you can find methods that work best for you, it makes the process all that much easier. You can’t Thrive using styles and techniques that don’t fit who you uniquely are. Wishing you the best for your marketing efforts!