Clumsily. But you will do it! We promise.
Everyone’s first meeting is weird. In fact, the first dozen meetings feel stilted and strange, and that’s because you care. If you didn’t care, you wouldn’t be nervous. You’re rehearsing to get your verbal system down tight. Remember, no brain surgeon was really ready for their first surgery. But ready they became. And you’re not even doing brain surgery. You’re becoming a trusted advisor to your clients.
Here are a few practical tips for getting through it:
- Develop a very simple agendaof how you’d like the meeting to proceed so if you get lost, you can always return to it.
- Tell Your Story
- Focus on your client and their needs
- See if there’s a good fit
- Schedule their next step, or
- Refer them out if you can’t help them
The key here is that you need to maintain control of the meeting at all times — know where you are going, have a script so you know what you are going to say and when, and understand your big picture purpose — to help the people across you make a great decision for their family, life or business. When they are the right fit for you and you have a great script, you will hear yes nearly every time.
- Be okay with letting your clients know you’ll have to get back to them if they have a question you can’t answer on the spot. It’s no crime to not know something. Almost no attorney does. Yes, there are more things you won’t know in your first meeting so rather than get intimidated by the amount you don’t know, use that question as an impetus to learn something new and immediately relevant.
- Learn to recognize when someone is not your ideal client and don’t be afraid to pass if they aren’t. When you first start out, you will be tempted to take any and every client that comes through your door. And when that first really bad fit comes in, take the opportunity to practice your “no” muscle and gratefully tell them you aren’t a good fit for them.
- Remember that you already know a ton more than your client. And even if you don’t know something, they will be heartened by your dedication to find out. You have a law degree and a law license. Use it.
Above all, breathe. The only difference between fear and excitement is breathing. If you haven’t don’t breath work before, now is a good time to start. Learn to breath into your belly, your core and you will find some ease in the nervousness. Relax, and enjoy!