If you’ve read the other articles in this series, you now know that if you don’t have a powerful introduction that’s compelling and memorable, you are likely wasting your networking efforts and blending into a very large and undifferentiated crowd of lawyers. It’s critical that you prepare for networking in advance, ask yourself the right questions, stop making assumptions, and supercharge your introduction so you don’t simply blend in.
So how do you distinguish yourself from other attorneys without being remembered for all the wrong reasons? In other words, how do you stand out from the crowd in a way that’s compelling and memorable without resorting to “salesy” tactics that feel unprofessional, pushy or desperate?
Here are 7 simple ways to distinguish yourself from others when meeting new people. Choose the ones that feel most natural to you.
- Ask a question or quote a statistic. I once attended a networking event where a guy started to tell me that he owned a business that installed solar panels in businesses and homes. As I considered a slick way to make my escape, he said “if you’re like most people, you probably don’t have any interest in solar energy.” I grudgingly agreed that was true (I didn’t want to actually insult the guy, after all.)
Then he went on: “Did you know that most businesses and homeowners that use solar energy save X% per year on their energy bills? That their savings pay for the installations costs in only Y years? And that the government offers huge incentives for going solar?” Since X and Y were pretty impressive numbers, I was intrigued. I stopped planning my exit and really listened.
You can turn a potentially ho-hum conversation into something a bit more dramatic by asking a question or stating a startling fact. For example, an estate planning lawyer might ask “did you know that 62% of Americans between the ages of 45 and 54 don’t have a will?” or “do you know that if you don’t have a will, the government might get some of the money you thought would go to your kids?” That’s certainly a conversation starter
- Draw a parallel. Since many people you meet don’t genuinely understand what you do for a living, you can use an analogy to something or someone they are familiar with. For example, “I’m the private detective of lawyers. I do investigations of companies who are accused of discrimination against their employees.”
- Tell an illustrative story. People often forget facts, titles and names of law firms, but almost everyone remembers a good story. Obviously, you must leave out confidential identifiers, but you can cement what you do in the minds of others by following a description of what you do by saying “for example, I recently helped a client . . .”
- Put your stake in the ground. When you are clear about what distinguishes you from other lawyers who do something similar, it sometimes makes sense to just come out and say it. Try something like this: “There are several really good lawyers in our county who help real estate owners with environmental problems. What makes me different is . . .”
- Identify your ideal client. Another memorable follow-up to an explanation of your practice area is “a perfect client for me is someone who . . .”
- Express enthusiasm. If you have a choice between a good lawyer who dutifully shows up and does his job and a good lawyer who jumps out of bed every day to get to work and wow her clients, who would you choose? If you love what you do, don’t keep it a secret.
- Don’t wing it! Most lawyers go into formal and informal networking situations without giving any thought to how to they want to present themselves. Prepare in advance and you’ll already be head and shoulders above the rest of the crowd.
Part 1 of the Craft Your 1-Minute Introduction Series clarifies why you need to stop telling people you are a lawyer or risk wasting your networking efforts.
Part 2 of the Craft Your 1-Minute Introduction Series reveals 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.
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