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When You’re Offered a Referral

Successful lawyers have many contacts willing to introduce them to prospects or others who can help them. Too many of these introductions are squandered because the lawyer being offered the introduction doesn’t manage the proffer properly. The result is a pleasant but vacuous meeting with no logical basis for continuity, where nothing gets accomplished, all at the cost of creating two new debts. What are the debts? When you offer to introduce me to Jack (below), I owe you. When Jack meets with me primarily at your behest, you owe Jack. We’ve created two debts. If I do this the right way, Jack will thank you for introducing me, and he’ll owe you. I have to do this before ever speaking to Jack. When a referral source offers to arrange a meeting with someone she knows well, thank her for the offer, and ask how she thinks you can help that person. Ask your source why she believes the referred contact will welcome the meeting and benefit from the meeting itself — not from the great work you’ll eventually do for them. The answer identifies the problem that the prospect will acknowledge having. It may prove to be the agenda for your meeting, but it’s definitely the foundation of any worthwhile introduction. To illustrate, let’s say that our client, Janice Brown, wants to introduce us to a friend and colleague. Here’s how that exchange might proceed

Originally published August 3, 2015
Last updated April 27, 2018
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