Feb 21, 2012
The Art of the Elevator Pitch
by Rush Nigut
If you search the Internet you’ll see nearly a million hits for “lawyer elevator pitches”. The elevator pitch is an introduction of who you are and what you do. It’s your chance to make a good first impression. The elevator pitch of course doesn’t happen all that much in elevators, rather it happens at all kinds of networking events including cocktail parties, trade shows, fund raising events, conferences and sometimes just walking down the street (or the skywalk in Des Moines during cold winter days).
The key to the elevator pitch is preparation. But not in the way many lawyers think. It’s not about memorizing lines that describe your practice like, “Hello, I’m Rush Nigut. I am a business lawyer. I do blah, blah, blah.” Rather it’s much more about turning the conversation into something that is helpful and meaningful to your prospective client than about you. It’s important to be flexible and conversational rather than give rigid practice descriptions that might appear on the typical law firm Web site. For example, what I say to a start up entrepreneur will be much different than to a general counsel of a publicly traded company. I’ve represented both types of clients in different capacities but I might miss out on potential work if I have just a standard elevator speech.
Plus, most solo lawyers have experience in more than one area of practice. But giving multiple areas of practice may make you sound like a jack of all trades and a master of none. The prospect may want to know that you have expertise in a particular area rather than just someone who dabbles in a particular practice area. As a result, I have found one question to be particularly successful when presented with a pitch opportunity:
“What kind of lawyer do you need?”
This simple question does wonders. First, it allows the prospect to open up and tell you about their issues and needs. Second, it allows you the opportunity to respond in a way that shows the prospect that you have expertise that will help them. Alternatively, if you can’t help the prospect you may be able to refer them to someone who can. In my experience getting someone to the right lawyer can pay big dividends down the road. Networking as a lawyer is a marathon, not a sprint. And you’ve got to be careful not to oversell your services.
As any good networker will tell you, it’s about being interested, rather than interesting. Learn how you can serve others to help them succeed and you’ll see your elevator reach the roof.
- Perfecting Your Elevator Pitch (ABA Law Practice Management)
- Elevating the Elevator Pitch (Lawyerist)
All opinions, advice, and experiences of guest bloggers/columnists are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, practices or experiences of Solo Practice University®.