Frequently Asked Question: What do you do?
Frequent Response: I’m a lawyer.
Thud. And, perhaps, yawn.
Yes, of course, you are a lawyer. But when you answer the question with that one-word answer (or its close cousins, “I’m a litigator” or “I do M and A”) you lose a golden opportunity to stand out from the crowd.
There are a lot of lawyers in the world. A LOT. In order to bring in business, you’ve got to let others know precisely what you do and distinguish yourself from other attorneys so that the listener remembers you long after your conversation is over. Just saying you are a lawyer ensures that you blend in. It’s boring, it doesn’t provide information for the listener, and it’s highly . . . forgettable.
Prepare Your Introduction in Advance
Why bother preparing a compelling introduction in advance? Because when meeting new people, you’re going up against three formidable foes:
- Short Attention Span. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, a dramatic increase in the last decade in the amount of external stimulation to which most people are subjected has resulted in a decrease in average attention span. The average attention span in humans was 12 seconds back in 2000. In 2015, we are down to 8.25 seconds, which is less than the 9 seconds attributed to your average goldfish.
- Their Short Memory. Even if your new acquaintance can pay attention long enough to listen to what you say, she is likely to promptly forget about you shortly after your meeting. Because most people have so much information competing for “brain space,” they make room for information they deem important by forgetting the mundane. If you are not compelling, you won’t be memorable
- Your Short Memory. When you are put on the spot, such as when meeting new people, you may forget to share something worthwhile and feel like kicking yourself later. As an example, I once participated in a mastermind group hosted by a marketing expert. One of the group exercises involved going around the room and introducing yourself. You were supposed to say who you are and what you do in a 30-second sound bite. Easy, right? Well, not exactly. The number of people who stammered and hesitated, unsure of what to say, was staggering. Some people even forgot to state their names!
The good news is that when you take the time to prepare your introduction in advance, you have the opportunity to decide exactly what you want to say to ensure that you are never left stammering and that others remember who you are and what you do. When they remember you, they can hire you and refer you.
Your Introduction and the Box of Crayons
Consider this analogy from business coach Sandy Schussel. Someone offers you a pad of paper, a box of crayons and a half hour to yourself. With all of the craziness going on at home and at the office, you’re pretty excited about this opportunity to get creative, so you enthusiastically open the box of 64 crayons only to discover that 63 of them are white and one, just one lone crayon, is red. Which crayon do you take out of the box first?
Almost everyone would grab the red crayon because it’s the one that’s different, interesting and attractive. If you want to get hired or bring in business, your goal must be to be the red crayon. Be the lawyer who stands out from the crowd. Be the one who doesn’t just say the same old thing that every other lawyer says.
Part 2 of the Craft Your 1-Minute Introduction Series will reveal the #1 question you must answer in order to prepare a compelling intro that will ensure you are remembered.
Part 3 of the Craft Your 1-Minute Introduction Series identifies the business-killing assumption you are making and what to do about it.
Part 4 of the Craft Your 1-Minute Introduction Series outlines 7 simple ways to spice up your introduction so people listen to you, remember you and call you.
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