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Because you only get 1 chance to make a great first impression

In the last couple of weeks, I was at two separate attorney networking events. At each of these events, I met a few attorneys who were articulate, experienced in their practice areas, and interesting. I met several more attorneys who also may have been articulate, experienced and interesting; however, I’ll never know because we didn’t get past the introductions.

In most instances, the conversations went something like, “Hi, I’m Bill Smith, and I’m, well, a personal injury lawyer.” Keep in mind that this was a networking function where the goal was to meet new people! Virtually everybody, including lawyers, sells something for a living.

Often, a large part of an attorney’s success is based on his or her personal network – past clients, other attorneys, family and friends. The goal, therefore, is to continue to expand this network by making more friends and acquaintances. You never know who you may meet or whether they may need services that you provide, and you rarely get a second chance to make a strong first impression that results in continued contact.

With this said, it is paramount to have a captivating introduction, or “elevator pitch”, that you have prepared and practiced. When you meet someone new, you know exactly what to say. A typical elevator pitch should last between twenty and thirty seconds, and should describe you as an individual attorney and, when appropriate, give a teaser about your firm. There are a lot of ways to structure this introduction, but I think there are THREE key principles that can help to make your elevator pitch more successful. 

  1.  It should be focused on the other person and how your services can benefit that person, rather than focusing on you. If you can’t articulate how you may be able to help that person meet a need or solve a problem, your pitch -and hence you – will not be memorable.
  2. It should differentiate you from your competitors. You should clearly be able to tell someone why they would call you rather than calling anyone else in your field.
  3. Lastly, it should leave them wanting to know more. A good elevator pitch should end with the other person intrigued by what you do, and wanting additional follow up information from you. 

While there are several other aspects of a good elevator pitch to consider, focusing on these three principles when presenting your introduction will dramatically improve your networking efforts.