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Back to Basics – Part II

Back to Basics, Part II

There are basic tools and behaviors that help lawyers meet potential clients and convert them into actual clients. So far, in 2013, I have been told some surprising tales about neglected basic rules. Here is a refresher course on three easy ones:

1. Look people in the eye when you are speaking with them. I would not have thought this a common problem until a well respected Communications Director with a national law firm noted to my husband that in her experience many of the lawyers with whom she works do not look people in the eye when they are having a conversation. This public relations professional suspects that lawyers who do not make eye contact with colleagues in their firm also do not look at their clients and potential clients. This behavior creates fewer opportunities to connect in ways that bond. Many overworked lawyers have developed a life that involves multi-tasking and frequent looking at hand held devices. No excuse. Whatever the reason, eye contact and full attention connect us to each other. We all want to be noticed. And when we are not, we conclude that our interlocutor has no real interest in us.

2. Planes and trains are outstanding opportunities to connect with strangers, without seeming like you are butting into their lives. Even in higher classes of transport, you and your nearby travelers are together with nowhere else to go. When you sit down next to someone, you may be spending a few hours together, so ask the person what she does. If that feels too aggressive, an easy icebreaker is to inquire whether she is going “home” or away, traveling on business or pleasure. The times when we could tell whether someone is a professional by their clothing, or even their demeanor, is long gone. I know at least half dozen stories of lawyers obtaining new clients on planes.

3. If you have an extra ticket to something fun or interesting, or know of an event a client or potential client would enjoy, it is perfectly appropriate to invite the person to join you. If you are concerned the invitation may be confused for something other than business, invite that person’s spouse or significant other as well. I once subscribed to a lunchtime lecture series primarily so I could bring clients and potential clients to talks they would enjoy. People who never have time for a casual lunch, make time to do something special and enjoyable. You can share and show common interests, and at least be in a position where you can call that person with a question about their work when appropriate.

Sometimes it is simple. For earlier Make It Rain® blogs containing simple reminders, see and

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