Weekly Rainmaker Activity 9/14/09: More on introductions

Last week’s WRA focused on the language to use in introducing yourself to potential clients and others.  This week, let’s look at the substance of the introduction.

Many lawyers seem to fall into the habit of the “just the facts, ma’am” introduction, which goes something like this: “Hi, I’m Bob Smith.  I’m a litigator with Dew Goode.”  While that introduction does give some valuable information, it’s also downright boring.

Choose a more interesting introduction, and you’re more likely to get conversation going that has a chance of developing into a relationship that may lead to billable work or other opportunities.

In The Reluctant Rainmaker, I share five approaches to introductions, but I’ll focus on two today.

  1. The benefits-focused description.  The typical so-called elevator speech follows a template, such as “I help ______ to ______ by _______ so that they can ______.”  An example: “I help small businesses to maximize their net profits through careful tax planning so they can grow quickly and pass on more of the company’s hard-earned profit to its owners.”  Or, “I help pharmaceutical companies with annual revenue in the range of $2 million to get the cash they need by negotiating funding deals so that they can conduct clinical trials of drugs in development.”  This form of introduction may lack panache, but it offers results-oriented information that will allow your conversational partner to understand quickly what you do.  If you follow this introduction with an interesting example, however, you can provoke good conversation.
  2. The “you know how” introduction.  Using this approach, you cast the problem that you solve for clients in a common, easily-understandable “you know how” framework: “You know how often a couple who’s no longer happy together decide to divorce and the situation turns into an absolute disaster, with each spouse blaming the other and trying to get any possible advantage, with the result that everyone comes out a loser in the end?  Well, I work with divorcing spouses before all of that begins, using an approach called collaborative law.  I represent one spouse and another collaborative lawyer represents the other spouse, and we sit down together to find a way to end the marriage without starting World War III.”

Whatever style you choose, be sure your introduction is brief, conversational (please, do not memorize and recite a great introduction!), attention-grabbing, and cast in a form appropriate to your listener.  Try new introductions regularly and see what gets the best response from listeners.

If you’d like to learn more about effective networking, check out The Reluctant Rainmaker, which is also available on Amazon.com — Kindle version coming soon.

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