Whenever a law firm is contemplating hiring someone, it asks for a résumé and a cover letter. This is standard. This is because any law firm that is contemplating hiring anyone wants to know as much as possible about that person before the interview. At worst it saves time by potentially obviating the interview, and at best it will make the interview more productive.
It is just as important before a meeting with a prospective client — or for a job interview. In either case, you want to know as much as possible before the meeting. Before every meeting I attend, I make sure that I know all of the attendees’ names, their background information, and details about their company. It can be as detailed as “CEO John Smith likes cigars” or as vague as “John Smith’s company is based in New York.”
If I am contemplating hiring you, I am always impressed if you quote back to me one of my speeches or if you mention that it is cool that I did an Ironman race. Sorry to be boastful, but I can’t help bragging about my Ironman every chance I get. I hope I am not one of those dumb guys who “falls for flattery,” but either way, I am impressed that you took the time to be prepared. Trust me, it is the same for me when I am meeting with a prospective client; the prospect can’t help but feel the respect I am showing by having taken the time to prepare for the meeting in advance.
Okay, maybe the foregoing is nothing you don’t already know, but let’s dig a little deeper as to how this kind of preparation can be useful at a pitch.
I have already written extensively that the worst thing you can do is just walk into a room and start telling the guy/gal why you are so wonderful; instead, you want your prospect to go first and explain her needs for a lawyer. After all, law is a “personal” service business and each “person” has different needs for a lawyer. The more you can learn about the “person(s)” you are meeting with, the more likely you will be able to explain precisely how you can address their specific needs, strike a common cord, and build a relationship.
You might discover that you have a hobby or other interest in common. You might learn of conversational topics to engage in — or to avoid. You might also discover reasons why certain of your teammates should accompany you to the pitch.
As a matter of course, we do extensive research on the people and companies we are meeting. This includes Google searches, database searches, or asking around internally if anyone has further information. From there, my team is now armed with valuable information that can give us insight into the company and potentially help the pitch go more successfully.
Here are a few ways that you can quickly gather research on the person you are meeting:
- LinkedIn or Relationship Science
- Twitter, Facebook, or any other social media platforms
- Asking colleagues (this is just a quick email to everyone — a no-brainer)
- Google Searches
All of these are great resources for unearthing a plethora of information on whoever you are researching. And the best part is that most of these platforms are free to use!
The bottom line is that one of the best ways to prepare for a pitch is to learn as much as you can about the people you are meeting with, both on a business level and a personal level.
Just to drive the point home, as I finish typing this, I am preparing for a pitch right now. And as soon as I submit this article, I am going to take my own advice and Google the people I will be meeting with — because I want to do everything possible to make sure that my pitch goes well.