Power Your Career with Referral Networks

I regularly speak to audiences of lawyers, accountants and consultants about the challenges of making partner. In my talks, I often share the ten lessons my clients have learnt along their journeys to make partners.

This is why professionals with established referral networks make partner quicker than their peers.

In this article I share the fifth lesson; create strong referral networks.

Where do professional advisors get the majority of their work from?

Ask any accountant, lawyer or consultant where their top 3 sources of work are, and I bet they will say:

  • Existing clients wanting more stuff
  • Existing clients referring them onto new clients
  • Their network referring them into new clients

The bottom line is your new business is most likely to come to you by referral. That means you need to create your own referral networks to facilitate this.

What do so many lawyers, accountants and consultants get wrong?

Given that building your referral networks is just another thing you need to do on top of your day job, you can really understand why so many professionals neglect building a strong referral network until they are on partner track.

But this is a costly mistake to make.

Just think about it. If you have to recommend another professional such as a lawyer or accountant, who are you more likely to recommend? The friend you’ve known for years and grown your career along side, or someone you met for the first time at a networking event. As long as your friend is credible, you’ll recommend them every single time.

When’s the best time to build your referral networks?

The best time to build your referral networks is many years before you need them. I know I am being facetious, but the sooner you get started on building your referral networks the better. Aim to stay in touch with the following people:

  • The people you trained with
  • Your colleagues
  • Professional advisors you’ve worked with on client work
  • Professional advisors who are one step ahead of you career wise

You may be reading this and thinking, but I don’t know where my career is heading, so how can I build the right type of network? A good challenge! No one has a crystal ball and can tell where you will be in the next 5-10 years. However, you can hedge your bets now and stay in touch with the people you like and come into contact with professionally.

How many referral networks do I need?

There is no hard and fast rule about how many referral networks you need. It’s not quite the more the merrier as you don’t want to spread yourself too thin. If your area of technical expertise is a distressed purchase, i.e. litigation or insolvency, then you will need more networks than if you are, say, an auditor. Your referral networks are likely to include:

  • Your firm’s internal networks, e.g. sector groups
  • Networks from the professional bodies or trade associations you are part of
  • ‘Young’ professional networking groups
  • External networks with a complementary client or focus to yours

In summary

If you’ve built strong referral networks you will find it easy to build your own practice when the need arises.

Study more on how to make business networking a strength. We offer deeper courses, webinars and guides in our Progress to Partner Academy, details oif which can be found in the Networking Courses and practice area here. We offer unlimited courses and support in our full yearly membership package in every area of your career, with a particular focus on Business Development.