You know you have to let potential business referral sources know about your service so they can open doors for you. But have you given them what they need so they'll reliably recognize WHEN to refer you, and to whom?

Unwittingly, we saddle referral sources with the burden of figuring out how to help us, when it's our job to make it as simple as possible.   

Beyond reminders

For example, instead of merely reminding referrers that you offer employment law services, describe the three most frequently-occurring business problems that your employment law expertise solves for your clients. Now, when your referral sources hear their clients reveal such problems in casual conversation, because they associate you with the problem under discussion, they’ll automatically think of you and describe you in relevant terms while the problem is foremost in the buyer's mind.  

Express your practice in terms of business situations

Internal and external referral sources will know which “Door Opener” problems trigger demand for you, and will find it easier to steer business your way. They'll also recognize that clients will welcome this approach because of its relevance to their world.

I wish I could claim some brilliant insight for this reliable method, but I stumbled across it. In the mid-90s, I was working with a firm's Product Liability group. A Banking/Finance partner asked the PL group if he could take a few minutes at the beginning of their meeting to talk about what BF was doing these days. The clear intent was to stimulate introductions to the PL group's clients.

The BF leader explained a number of developments in his area, which were met with total silence. It was pretty uncomfortable, kind of like when a comedian bombs. You feel for him.

I happened to be sitting next to the BF leader. I explained that I was neither a PL nor BF lawyer, and asked how a layman such as myself could recognize when BF skills were needed. He quickly cited four specific situations, business conditions, problems and challenges that would trigger the need for his group's expertise.

Immediately, the hoped-for chatter began around the table, as his colleagues now recognized in BF's situation descriptions things they'd heard their clients talk about. BF immediately became relevant to those other partners' clients, and they couldn't wait to connect him.

Remember that you must first establish your Relevance. With it, you're a welcome part of the conversation. Without it, you're trying to change the conversation. We all know how well that works.

Mike O'Horo

Need help with the “how” part of this concept?  

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