How do you set up a referral network of your own? Whether you’re a lawyer or an accountant, one of the easiest ways to get onto that partnership track is to start winning work through a network of introducers, or a referral network. But how do you set up a referral network? I’ve put together a short video to share some insightful tips on how you can navigate along with your network and see how you can set up a referral network that can push you up to that partnership track.
Regardless of whether you’re a lawyer, accountant, contentious, audit, transactional, dealmaker, one of the things that everyone on their way to partner needs is their own network of introducers.
That’s often the easy way to get your foot in the door, is to have that network of introducers. So how do you build them up? Well, the first thing, and we do this on module four of the program,* we even do it on module three as well in another way is to do a network map.
To think about who you know and who can help you get towards your ideal client. Now with lawyers, I often talk about four or five referral networks, so the internal firm network. The sector team network you’re in. Maybe your professional body. You know, you’ve got these little groups of people that make great introducers for you.
So, the first thing is to identify where are they going to come from? A great tip that I’m using with a lot of people is to search on LinkedIn. To actually put in the role name that they’re probably going to go under and search in LinkedIn.
And then connect with a little note to say, “I hope you don’t mind me contacting you, but we’ve got very complementary audiences, I’d like to take the first step in getting to know you.” Simple as that. And then start a dialogue with them. Online first and then go, “do you fancy a phone call? You know, I think we could help each other.”
Don’t just assume that they’re in a position to help you. I have so many people going, oh, we could collaborate so well together and so I’ve stopped connecting without sources, with IFAs, with R&D Tax Credit people ’cause all they want is to mine my portfolio so you have to do it sensitively, that approach.
So, it is about really understanding what does an introducer look like for you? Where are you going to find them? And then put together a plan. What’re your targets? Are you going to find one new introducer a month and have a chat with them? But as many of my networks have found out, it’s not about the first conversation you have, it’s about the third conversation, the fourth conversation that’s then going to lead to these people sending you work.
So how do you then do that? Well, the first thing is you’ve got to find them. LinkedIn’s is a great way, start looking around your firm. Who’s going to the same events as you with a very complementary network? Get talking, find people. The second thing is you then want to get to a phone call, a cup of tea.
Don’t ask for lunch to start with, it’s too big. A phone call, cup of tea, are you going to the same event? You want some one-to-one time. Now, in that conversation, you then want to understand whether they are in the right place and they have the means, the will, and the ability so are they well placed, can they send you enough work? Two, have they actually got, they might have an existing relationship that they’re unlikely to break for you. Sorry, it happens. So, have that half an hour, 45-minute chat over the phone, cup of tea if you’re local.
And you need to be asking yourself, are they well placed to be able to send me to work and are they able? They might not be senior enough and they’ve got to pass both of those tests. If they pass both of those tests, you then want to say, “look, I’ve really enjoyed the conversation, it looks like we can help each other. Do you fancy a chat in about three months’ time, maybe over lunch?”
And you want to have a couple of these chat touchpoints ’cause they need to get to know you. And maybe on the next one, you could say, “how about on the next one, we bring our own marketing plans and see where there are opportunities to help each other out?” You don’t ask for that immediately. You don’t go straight to it. But you start to bring in things like the marketing plan, the question, what would it take for you to be able to refer me.
Might be the second conversation or the third conversation. And then with that network, you want those relationship plans. How are you going to stay in touch? So, say for example each month, you’ve added one new referrer on and so over 10 months you might have got 10 new referrers.
What’s the plan to stay in touch? Making sure that they’ve got a similar expectation. So that’s the key. It’s where are they going to come from, how do you get to them and then how do you warm them up to be an introducer for you? *I’m not running the How to Make Partner programme any more but if you want to get onto Partnership Track, or set up a referral network, or start winning your own clients?
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We have a great course in our subscriber-only site Progress to Partner called How to Make time for Business Development. The course gives you the structure, clarity, and guidance to create a daily business development habit and a business development plan that is focussed and not just based on friendly coffees!