Do you ever feel uncomfortable talking about yourself and your practice when you’re networking in hopes of developing new business? Many lawyers do. (And some lawyers who don’t feel that way perhaps should — but that’s another post.) But there’s good news: talking about what you do isn’t the way to generate interest from a potential client. Of course, clients care that you (and, if applicable, other lawyers in your firm) have strong experience and good skills in the practice area that matches their needs, but chances are, something else sets you apart.
Have you ever considered what makes you different from other lawyers who serve similar clients? I hope at least one response is that you care even more deeply about your clients than other lawyers do, and that your practice is all about client service. Assuming that to be the case, shouldn’t you market in the same way?
When you have the experiences and credentials to back you up, the best marketing is client-centric. It’s all about being interested in the client’s needs, the client’s concerns, and how you can meet those needs and concerns to accomplish the client’s objective. (In some instances, of course, it may be that the client’s objectives shouldn’t be accomplished — if a parent wants to use child custody to punish the other parent in a bitter divorce, for example — but that, too, is another post.)
Of course, you won’t often be presented with an opportunity to demonstrate this to a potential client, but you can do the next best thing: show interest in each person you meet. Demonstrate your attitude of service in each networking encounter. Rather than approaching networking as an opportunity to let people know about you and what you’ve accomplished, focus your attention on finding out about the people you meet and their interests. Give it a try, and notice how people respond. You’ll almost certainly be pleased.
Side benefit: this is a terrific strategy for introverts. The conversation is likely to flow easily and to require little of you (at least initially) other than your genuine interest.