A recent blog post Why Aren’t You Out There Networking? The Real Reason (and What to Do About It), discussed common reasons lawyers give for avoiding networking and what the real reason is that they may avoid doing so.

Even if you are comfortable networking, though, you may still be stymied by “The Ask,” that is, the moment when you let the other person know you can be helpful in solving her problem and offer to represent her. For many lawyers it feels like the moment when pleasant and enjoyable conversation suddenly seems to stop dead in its tracks to make way for unseemly talk about money. It’s the moment when you put yourself out there, allow yourself to be vulnerable to rejection, and show your (ugly) need for clients, income or approval.

As a result, you don’t ask. You let the moment pass and you let the client go. You miss your window of opportunity and are left kicking yourself wondering what the heck happened. Why didn’t I just say something for heaven’s sake?!

Well, the answer to that one is pretty easy. There’s an upside to avoiding The Ask — you don’t have to feel uncomfortable or like the proverbial used car salesman pushing yourself on the unsuspecting customer. You don’t have to look or feel awkward or run the risk of hearing that someone doesn’t want to hire you.

The downside, unfortunately, is huge: you squander opportunities to do work you enjoy, grow your practice, and solve your prospect’s problems. And what’s worse is that your prospect may wind up hiring your competitor instead. So how can you get more comfortable with asking for someone’s business?

Start thinking about the situation in a new way by saying the following to yourself:

  • The prospect’s problem is X.
  • I am an expert in solving that precise problem.
  • If I can help the prospect with X, her life and business will improve dramatically.
  • If I don’t let her know that I can help her, she will continue to suffer because of X and will continue to be stressed out, lose money, and fill-in-the-horrible-blank.

When you look at The Ask from that perspective, how can you even conceive of NOT asking for the business? Your prospect needs help and you are the perfect person to do it! Are you really going to walk away from someone with a problem you can solve without giving her the opportunity to let you help?

Sounds different when I put it that way, doesn’t it?

Yes, you are going to charge her money. No, you are not going to do it for free. But that’s okay! People pay for solutions all day long and are happy to do it when they know they are getting real value and their pain is relieved or pleasure increased.

Untie your tongue and ASK.

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