As discussed in Part 1, “People do business with people they know and they like.”
Therefore, “Prospects hire lawyers they know and they like.”
In addition to getting to know you, a prospective legal client needs to like you. How does this happen? Ask yourself why you like someone. Isn’t it because of the way they treat you? The interest, respect and courtesy they show you? A legal prospect may admire an attorney’s skill and accomplishments but what generally goes further in making the hiring decision is the connection the prospect has with the attorney. In general, clients believe that if you have a law license you can do the job they need done. What matters is how they size you up as a person; whether they like you. Here are some simple tips that will make you more likable to a prospect.
- Don’t try to sell yourself. We are all pretty good at knowing when someone is trying to sell us something and it’s a real turnoff. If someone senses that you are trying to sell them on your legal services, they’re out of there. I recommend that you do not give out your card until the prospect requests it or it is appropriate within the context of the conversation.
- Don’t talk too much. A general rule is to pay attention to the number of people in the group. For example, if you are at a networking event and in a crowd of three, don’t talk more than 1/3 rd of the time. Too much talking is also a turn off and it is hard to talk a lot without talking too much about yourself.
- Listen to what the other person is saying. Haven’t you been at a function where the person you are talking to is scanning the room, looking for the next conversation? He didn’t make a very good impression, did he? As I pointed out in Part 1, your focus should be on deeper conversations with fewer individuals. To have that deeper conversation you need to listen to what the other person is saying in order to ask intelligent questions and keep the conversation going. Also, by asking questions about him, he will feel the need to ask you questions. This is a perfect opportunity to talk a bit about yourself and your work without being pushy.
- “The more people talk about themselves, the more they like you.” Remember this rule! Give your prospect an opportunity to talk more than you do. To tell you about himself, his business (*his business challenges and problems), hobbies, interests and so forth. The more you get to know about the person, the better you will be able to evaluate whether he is a good prospect for legal work, a referral source or even possibly a friend.
- Help. From listening and paying attention to what is said you will likely learn of something this person needs or wants. What you do could be as simple as providing a recommendation to a professional or service provider, referring him to a helpful website or perhaps sending him a white paper you have drafted. This is a great way to follow up with the prospect as discussed in Part 1. The point is that you are taking your time to help him. We all appreciate these thoughtful little actions and chances are he will remember and want to help you when he can.
There is a lot to legal marketing and a written marketing plan is very important. But, if all you do is apply this fundamental principle of lawyer marketing to your contacts with prospective clients, you can go a long way toward building the law practice you want.
Have a great practice!
Professional Lawyer Coach