One of my best means to building relationships that lead to referrals are handwritten notes. I use two different types of correspondence, one is by email and one is the old-fashioned handwritten note. I prefer the handwritten note sent by regular mail. Why? Because it is so rarely done, you will really stand out. I also use fine stationary (not stationary with my firm logo, but beautiful, business-appropriate stationary).
Handwritten Notes Work for Many Occasions
Here are some ideas for an excuse to write a handwritten note:
- A thank you for a client testimonial
- A client referral (obviously!)
- A congratulatory note (graduation, marriage, partnership, new child/grandchild, civic honor, etc.)
- A condolence note (always appropriate and best as a handwritten note)
- A get well card
- A birthday card, and
- As part of your bar activities (for a fellow program chair or a speaker from a program you organized)
I have had multiple attorneys thank me for my handwritten note and tell me how nice it was to get a note in the mail. When you are getting to know attorneys, a handwritten note is a low cost, high impact way to make a good impression. You can always include your business card in the note. Of course when you do get a referral, you have to take good care of the client. That is the key to continued referrals.
Some good sources for respectable note cards are Crane’s and G. Lalo. I do not have firm stationary because the unbranded stationary just feels warmer and more personal to me. And not to give away all of my marketing secrets, but I always buy smaller note cards so I do not have to fill a lot of space, just a few heartfelt sentences will do. I would not recommend writing on letter-sized stationary.
When Is an Email the Best Option?
Usually when time is of the essence. Or, an email may be best when a good friend refers you a client—a handwritten note may be too formal in that instance. If you only have time to send an email, that is better than sending no note at all. When I am in my busiest times, I will email a thank you because it is fast and I can get it done quickly. One of the most practical things that I was reminded of at the Avvocating conference in May is that it is better to get it done rather than waiting until you can get it done perfectly.
About the author: Kelly Zinser is an attorney at her own firm, Zinser Law Group, PC in Orange County, California. Her practice involves bankruptcy, corporate transactional law and estate planning. Kelly likes efficient and cost-effective marketing so she can enjoy her family when she is not practicing law. Follow her on Twitter: @KellyZinser