Most lawyers know that referrals are among the best sources of new business. On the other hand, most don't recognize the interplay between referrals, social media and search.
In 2 Lawyers, 12 Referrals: The Story Of Brian And Steve, attorney Lee Rosen reminds us that strong referral pipelines are built on lunches, some smiles and handshakes:
Brian is friendly with Steve (Steve really is made up). Steve is a divorce lawyer (“family law” in polite conversation). Steve is very good at what he does. Brian met Steve at a lunch place near the courthouse. They struck up a conversation and have been bumping into one another and having lunch from time to time for the past five years.
Brian likes Steve. He’s heard good things about him. He feels comfortable referring to Steve and trusts him to take care of his clients, friends, neighbors, and others. He gives out Steve’s number about once a month.
This is how it's been and how it will always be.
However, the ways in which Brians meet, chat with and hear good things about Steves has been changed by the internet, social media and search.
Meeting more Brians
It used to be that the main way that people would meet each other was face to face. Today, for many people, the web has changed this.
Every day, people are meeting new people through comments, updates and posts on a variety of online platforms.
Over time, some of these conversations lead to meetings in real life.
But they don't happen as naturally if you're spamming social networks. In fact, they probably won't happen at all.
If you want to meet more Brians, get online, be yourself and start socializing.
Chatting with Brians
Whether you initially meet online or offline, the web can be an excellent way to nurture your relationships with Brians.
Brians are a busy bunch. They're not always going to be able to meet for coffee or lunch.
But more and more Brians use the web as part of their daily routine. They're getting news online. They're doing research. They're publishing articles and posts around the web on subjects relevant to their personal professional lives. And they're keeping in touch with family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances.
Brians will expect to be able to find information about Steves on social networks and search engines.
Does the absence of Steves online make Brians feel less about their abilities to represent clients? Probably not.
But does out of online sight lead to out of mind? It sure can.
Now let's be clear, this doesn't mean that you should head over to the most popular social networking sites and begin bombarding Brians with annoying social "pings."
But it does mean that you should make following-up with Brians, when you have something to share, a regular part of your networking process.
Hearing good things about Steves
Brians are smart and take their professional obligations seriously. Which means that they only refer people to Steves that they trust to take care of clients, friends, neighbors, and others.
Most smart Brians will keep abreast of what's going on with the Steves to whom they refer.
In part, this means regularly keeping up with what's going on with their Steves. And part of this process is likely to include looking them up online.
Diligent Brians like to see that other lawyers also feel the same way about Steve. They want to see happy clients singing Steve's praises. They expect to see that Steve is active in his professional community, takes on a leadership role and perhaps even publishes and speaks on this subject matter.
Brians are likely to conduct some of this research on Google.
Which means that smart Steves pay attention to what Brians are likely to find about them in search results. Smart Steves do real law firm stuff to put their best foot forward online because they know that's where Brians and their clients are looking for them.