Find an Expert Witness

Forensic, General & Medical
Expert Witnesses

Successful Networking: What to Say after "Hello"

Business networking can be like speed dating; you only have a few minutes to make a positive first impression. This article will show you how to talk to a prospect.

As the hectic pace of holiday parties approaches, now is the time to invest a few minutes in reviewing your business development goals. Start by identifying the number and type of new contacts you want to make each month. Since many attorneys get a significant amount of their business from referrals and positive “word of mouth,” planning what you want to say can be time well spent.

Adding ten new qualified prospects a month to your contact list, for example, is a relatively easy goal that can be achieved comfortably in only one or two networking sessions. From a long-term perspective, 120 new contacts annually means that you should be able to convert at least one or two of them into a significant account and another one or two into entry level accounts that can grow over time.

Be selective on where you spend your networking time. Focus on the groups that offer the highest concentration of your best prospects and skip the rest. Ideally these opportunities are local, but a national or regional practice may dictate that you travel to mingle with the movers and shakers.

Your approach to each new person you meet will vary somewhat with their situation. When introduced, you must determine if they are: a) a prospect; b) a source of referrals; and/or c) a power broker. Plan accordingly. Here are some conversational basics to maximize your networking efforts.

Rule #1: Remember the prospect’s name. Do this by repeating your new contact’s name when you speak with them (e.g., very nice to meet you, Barry). Try to create some type of word or image association that will help you establish their name in your memory. Reinforce your recall by introducing your contact to others who stop by and say hello while the two of you are talking.

Rule #2: Ask for a business card. Take note of the information provided, including their title, office location, and any description of services offered. Offer one of your cards in return. Be prepared with a brief but concise “elevator pitch.” Here is an example:

I am Jane Smith, an elder law attorney with Smith, Johnson & Jones. Our firm has 10 attorneys working from offices in City 1, City 2 and City 3. We help older Americans and their families plan for the healthcare, housing and financial needs required for a secure retirement. Our clients achieve a healthier, more satisfactory lifestyle by knowing their affairs are in order.

Rule #3: Try to qualify your lead. Chit-chatting about current events may be interesting, but it doesn’t help you determine if this person is a potential fit for your legal services. Qualifying questions revolve around the characteristics of your ideal client profile.

Demographics. If your practice serves business accounts, find out key facts like staff size, number of offices, years in business, typical customers, sales cycle, raw material usage and other pertinent points. If consumers or high net worth individuals are your clients, ask questions about family size, education, cars, home ownership, travel, and hobbies.

Business or Personal Challenges. Try to skillfully uncover areas of concern facing the business executive or consumer. Is there new legislation or existing regulatory compliance requirements that pose a burden for the businessperson? Are they hiring or downsizing? Is financing available for their needs? Consumer issues are likely to be more sensitive, so one approach is to talk about common challenges faced by your clients and see how your prospect responds.

Existing Legal Relationships. It is very helpful to know if your prospect is already working with an attorney. Even if the answer is “yes,” try to determine if you can offer a specialized level of knowledge.

Rule #4: Follow up. If you are able to develop a good rapport with the prospect, ask for permission to call for lunch or coffee. It may take 5-6 meetings and a period of time to convert the prospect to a client, so you might as well get started. This will also give you a better chance to understand the benefits your customer will derive from the right solution to their legal challenges.

Rule #5. Track your leads. Avoid the common trap of spending valuable time on networking, only to lose touch with your leads due to work conflicts. Set up a “pipeline” or lead management system that works for you. Common lead tracking software programs include Act!, Goldmine,, Contact Ease, Interaction by LexisNexis, Microsoft Outlook, or Microsoft Contacts.

Networking is a two-way street. Be prepared, listen carefully, and learn how you can help the many prospective clients, friends, and acquaintances you meet. Remember, business development is a process and not an event. Never stop marketing!

By Legal Expert Connections, Inc.
Legal Marketing, Expert Marketing, Attorney Marketing, Lawyer Marketing
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Margaret Grisdela
Margaret Grisdela is President of the South Florida legal marketing agency Legal Expert Connections, Inc., focused on business development for law firms, attorneys, lawyers, forensic experts, and litigation support. She is the author of the legal marketing book “Courting Your Clients,” and 2008 Co-Chair of the Legal Marketing Association, South Florida City Group. Services include business development training, attorney marketing plans, law firm web sites, law firm brochures, speaking engagements, article placement, and more.

Copyright Legal Expert Connections, Inc.

Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

Find an Expert Witness