The beginning of each new client relationship holds so much potential. Both parties want the best for their working relationship, but trust is often not yet developed. The first new client meeting has the power to define that relationship, for better or worse. It’s important to be prepared in order to ensure you make the best impression possible.
Here are a few tips for hitting a home run and making a great first impression:
Prepare to speak intelligently about your new client’s situation
Do your homework. Any client wants to know that their attorney has a strong working understanding of their situation. You’ll be taking over very important legal matters, after all! Show your commitment to their case from the first by educating yourself about their needs as much as possible before your meeting.
Even if your law firm is a casual place, a meeting with a new client is a time to dress up. You want your client to recognize your professional expertise, so dress in a professional manner. Gentlemen, that means a neutral suit and tie. Ladies, dress pants or a skirt are in order.
Schedule the meeting somewhere away from your office
If your office is like most, it’s not the ideal place to avoid interruptions. Whether it’s calls from other clients or a coworker who needs your attention, it’s easy to get caught up in other items. Schedule a new client meeting away from the office to banish these distractions and devote your entire attention to the client.
Have an agenda prepared
The act of preparing and sending an agenda will help you organize your thoughts and priorities for the meeting, and will give the client a chance to prepare ahead of time as well. During the meeting, the agenda will keep you on track and ensure that nothing crucial is missed.
Stay on time
Stick to the agenda as closely as possible, and keep an eye on the time to make sure you can address everything that needs to be discussed. This will demonstrate to your client that you’re able to stay focused and get work done in a manageable time frame.
Make sure your new client has a chance to ask any questions they have, and that you take the time to thoroughly answer. You want the client to feel that they understand what you are doing and why, and that they can ask questions at any time if they need to. Setting that pattern from the beginning will help the client get comfortable working with you.
Follow up afterward
After your initial meeting, follow up promptly with an overview of what you covered and a list of next steps. By clearly laying out what you intend to do and what you need from the client to do it, you open a channel for ongoing communication and make sure that everyone is on the same page.
What else do you do to start off your client relationships the right way?