By Paul Saunders, partner at Shakespeares Solicitors
1) Be comfortable in your own skin and clothes
I have gained a reputation for my shirts. Don’t expect to see me in a full Hawaiian, but some are pretty colourful! I’m not going to suggest that funky shirts are the key to being memorable, but for me they get away from the ‘grey’ lawyer stereotype. They also create a talking point and break the ice, and from a personal point of view, they give me a certain level of confidence. They work for me, but everyone needs to find what works for them. And, of course, what you wear is just a small part of making a positive, lasting impression.
2) Be driven by passion
I always remember people who are incredibly passionate about what they do. When someone talks eloquently about their enjoyment of their chosen career, activity or business, rather than the money or rewards that might come from it, that’s memorable. As a professional, when you are passionate about what you do, everything else tends to follow.
Being memorable is all about listening. Lawyers have been earmarked as people who don’t listen – we have gained the dubious reputation as being people who tell clients what we think they want to know. You need potential clients to be confident that you are interested in them and their business.
4) Be courageous and honest
As lawyers we’ve put ourselves onto a pedestal and now we don’t have the confidence to say, “Actually, we don’t know.” Or, “We don’t know until we understand what you do in more detail.” You need the courage to communicate that you don’t have all the answers but can still contribute hugely. And you have to be honest with people if what you’re offering is of no benefit to them or if you can’t deliver.
5) Act honourably
The ‘in’ with one of our biggest clients was having a coffee with a branch manager during a chance meeting 20 years ago. One thing led to another and we won the business. What that shows is that connections are being made all the time in unpredictable ways, so you must do yourself justice at every opportunity and win respect by treating people as you would want to be treated. It’s about helping others to make good contacts too.
6) Don’t be cynical
In my experience it’s not a good idea to have your eye on a final goal when you meet someone. It creates an unnatural situation and means you won’t be able to listen properly or be completely honest. Here at Shakespeares we see a conversion rate as a two- to five-year process. Many lawyers take a shorter-term approach: if they don’t see a route to income immediately then they shut down on the relationship. I think that’s a huge mistake.
7) Don’t rely on price
Many professionals think clients remember advisers based on price alone but I’ve found that not to be the case. People buy people. So you should start by highlighting the quality of your service and by building up the relationship, and then work forward from there. You will find a price that’s acceptable to both parties.
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