Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Social Media Driven Referrals

Tuesday, May 22, 2012
What is the number one source of incoming work and your business and/or law firm? I’d guess with 99% certainty, your answer will include something along the lines of word-of-mouth recommendations and/or personal referrals. In an age where 850 million+ people use Facebook, and over 75% of the population uses the Internet on a regular basis, how does social media influence these referrals and recommendations? The answer may surprise you. 

Let’s pretend you are looking for a mechanic to work on your car. You remember that your friend spoke highly of his mechanic, Joe Smith, and gave you his card. After rummaging through your kitchen drawer, you find Joe’s card as well as Peter Ward’s flyer you received via mail. Peter’s flyer looks pretty awesome so you decide to do some further research on the Internet. When you type in Joe Smith’s name you find zero results; no website, no YELP review, nothing. Even though your friend spoke highly of him, you’re left wondering why he’s absent. On the other hand, when you search for Peter Ward, you’re met with a nicely designed website, client testimonials, links to more positive reviews on Yelp, and a professional video inviting you to learn more about Peter. Overall, what would your thoughts be? Who would you contact?

Understandably, law firms are definitely not car mechanics, I get that. But the situation carries on to every relationship you have. Whether it’s a golf game while on a conference, or an afternoon lunch, we receive personal referrals on a regular basis. 

Did you know 70% of corporate counsel and legal staff turn to online lawyer profiles such as LinkedIn to identify, evaluate and validate credentials of outside counsel? If your name came up, would he or she be able to find something credible? Or would your competition have an advantage? Also, according to Green Target, in-house counsel are largely ‘invisible users’ of social media, preferring to listen and consume. This makes their true level of engagement hard to measure. 

What does this all mean to you? Glad you asked. It means you need to have complete, optimized and up-to-date profiles on LinkedIn, Marindale Hubbel and whatever other social networks you chose to use. You need to make sure your friends, co-workers, school mates, and family know about your networks and what type of work you do. You need to communicate that you want referrals, and are open to giving referrals as well.