Client Development

The Slow Game

You think that baseball is a slow game? It has nothing on networking.

Here is a story for you.

Many years ago I met a tax accountant named Michael. Capable guy. We built up a trusting relationship and referred business back and forth from that day forward to my retirement.  

Pretty close to the outset of our relationship I met with a start-up client who I will call Peter. Peter needed a lawyer and an accountant. He thought that I was too expensive and went with a lower-cost lawyer. That’s okay. Things like that happen.  But Peter also needed an accountant and I referred him to Michael.

Flash forward about fifteen years and Peter had built up a great business and was putting it up for sale for a good number of millions of dollars. Peter knew (or Michael told him) that his low-cost legal firm was not up for that job and asked Michael for a referral.

Michael referred Peter right back to me for the plum assignment.

A few lessons, here:

  1. Surround yourself with great referral sources. Capable people who know how to keep clients happy over the long term.
  2. Work at maintaining your relationships with your referral sources. Be loyal. Don’t be greedy.
  3. Sell your extended team of referral sources so that they will sell you.

Play the long game. Only refer your clients to people who you truly believe are a good match for them. The fact that they refer business to you does not necessarily make them a good match for your client.

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