As an attorney, you make your living by using words confidently. Individuals and corporations pay you to give advice and to be right. It’s understandable, then, if you’re guilty of violating the Golden Rule of Business Development: Listen at least twice as much as you talk. But the sooner you learn to live by this rule in every single business development conversation, the better. From the point of view of attorney marketing, there’s a catalog of reasons why, but here are the top two: First, you can’t gain a deep understanding of the other person’s situation without asking probing questions and hearing their answers. Second, prospective clients and prospective referral sources assume that you’re technically competent. What they’re looking for is a sense of rapport and trustworthiness. They want to be confident that you understand their unique “needs and wants” and that you’re really hearing them. They simply won’t get that if you’re doing most of the talking. This week, when you get together with a prospective client or prospective referral source, notice the flow of conversation. Come prepared with an attitude that this time, you’re going to ask more questions — and more clarifying follow-up questions — than usual. Resist the temptation to jump in with a particular solution or recommendation. You’ve heard the adage that “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Show you care by being genuinely curious and listening well. Remember, you’ve got two ears and one mouth. Use them in that proportion. All of your legal marketing efforts will benefit.
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