Why is Referral Network so important to your future career progression?
Being blunt, the relationships in your network are what will be the deciding factor for whether you win work. Referrals are the lifeblood of any senior lawyer, accountant or consultant who wants to be able to win their own work. Sadly, referrals don't happen without a consistent focus on keeping your key relationships warm and strong.
Depending on the size of your firm and your service line you will need a strong network across your firm, other offices and its international network plus your key client accounts, trade bodies and sector interests. Given how COVID-19 has accelerated a trend towards far more working from home, you also need to be able to sustain your network by both online and offline networking tools.
You know that if your life were a little bit easier, your partners would make sure that there was time in your working day to create these relationships. Sadly, when your billable time targets are 6+ hours a day, this means that this relationship building activity often needs to happen in your own time. This means your networking and relationship building activity needs to be focused on those people who really matter to you (and definitely not left to chance or luck!).
Why build your network and community?
Ask anyone who is considered the rainmaker in their firm and they will mention the value of their network in helping them build their reputation, extend their reach and get them recommended. Get your networking right and others will do the job of selling for you, spreading the word about your services, products or skills.
How to use your network to generate referrals
The SERVICE framework will help you use your networking activities to maximise the number of referrals you get through your network.
SERVICE stands for:
Choose a specific niche and be specific with your requests about who you want to be introduced to.
Extraordinary Client Service
Deliver extraordinary client service to generate word-of-mouth referrals.
Nurture your A-listers to generate a large proportion of your referrals.
Be seen in all the right places, whether online or offline.
Proactively ask for referrals as well as introductions which may lead to business.
Work together with contacts who have a similar type of client base to you, but offer a different service.
Educate your network about how to spot a potential client for you, how much you value them doing this for you, and what to do next.