Meeting with a prospective client for the first time is not unlike a blind date. You know a little about each other, it seems that you two would be a good match, and now you’re going to meet face-to-face to determine if there’s indeed chemistry between you two—albeit on a professional level.
But unlike a blind date, you need to bring more to the table during this first meet and greet. A prospective client is coming to you for help, and is trying to determine if you can handle their legal needs. You must convey that you’re the best suitor for the job, and as far as business relationships go, your firm is in it for the long haul.
Here are the top 5 tips to make sure your first meeting with a prospective client is a successful one.
1. Prepare and Research
From the moment a prospective client sets up a consultation, your preparation for this first meeting should begin. Based on the information the client has given you for needing legal help, you need to be in research mode.
Gather relevant information pertaining to the specifics of the client’s case, and be prepared to discuss the client’s legal options for their particular circumstances—DUI dismissal charges based on improperly-conducted field sobriety tests, bankruptcy protection for rental properties, etc. Such research will show your firm is knowledgeable, detailed, and attentive.
2. Look and Act Professional
Having a professional appearance and demeanor conveys to a client that you can present yourself discerningly in a court of law, and be persuasive in your actions. Always speak clearly, ask intelligent questions and give intelligent answers, and make eye contact. This shows professionalism, as well as trustworthiness.
TIP: Speak intelligently, but simply. Too much legalese will not impress prospective clients, but likely confuse them.
3. Meet Outside Of Your Office
Your office, although your space, is a backdrop for potential distractions—emails popping up on your screen, staff members knocking on your door who aren’t aware you’re in a meeting, etc. A potential client needs to feel they are your top priority, and that they have your undivided attention. A closed conference room away from your office is a more professional and courteous location.
4. Start the Meeting On Time
First impressions count, especially time-related ones. Make sure you start your first meeting on time. Having a client wait for you in the lobby shows that you may be A) Stretched for time and won’t be able to handle their case with urgency, B) Have other engagements that you care more about, or C) Both.
5. Close the Meeting Open-Ended
As the meeting is closing, and if a business relationship has been established, assure the client that you’ll be contacting them with case developments asap, and give a specific date and time for this. If a business relationship has not yet been established, inform the client you’ll be following up with them shortly, and to please contact you if they have any questions or concerns.