How do you talk about what you do?

When you meet someone for the first time — especially in a social setting or at a networking function — how do you answer the inevitable, “What do you do?”  The tendency for a lot of us is to answer quickly, “I’m a lawyer.”  The person you’re talking with may inquire further about what kind of law you do or where you work, but it’s equally likely that the response will be something else entirely.  (One of my favorites is always, “Really?  You don’t seem like a lawyer!”  Is there a good answer to that?  I think not.)

So what’s a better response, especially with a view toward potential client development?  Prepare a 30-second commercial that explains what you do in a way that a non-lawyer would understand immediately.  I suggest lawyers answer 4 questions to create their commercial:

1.  What type of clients do you work with?
2.  What problems are those clients facing?
3.  What do you help them to do?
4.  What do they end up with?

So, a patent litigator might say, “I represent large companies that have or are developing a significant patent portfolio and have discovered an infringement. We work to target infringers, to negotiate a settlement where possible, and to litigate as needed so my clients’ IP rights are protected, they receive appropriate compensation for infringement, and their technical leadership is respected in the industry.”

By introducing yourself and your work this way, you’ll make it clear what you do and the person you’re talking with will know right away whether they need your services and whether they know someone else who does.  It also opens an opportunity for an interesting conversation about your work.  And, naturally, you can tailor your introduction based on the event and company you’re keeping.

How will you introduce yourself for maximum impact?

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