How to approach a stranger


I got an email today from someone I don’t know, offering me his services. It said:

“I am reaching out to make you aware of my availability as an [type of] expert witness for case review, consulting and testimony. I also will spend an hour of time at my cost to assist you in evaluating a potential case if you are looking for feedback.”

He then offers to send his CV or I can see it online.

If you’re in southern California, maybe you got the same email. Check your spam folder. That’s where I found it.

Okay, what do you think? Is this a viable approach? What might improve it? Or this is terrible posture and something you would never consider?

I’ll tell you what I think.

There’s nothing wrong with contacting strangers by email. And, if you do it right (and follow your Bar rules) it can lead to work. But. . .

Don’t send a “form letter” to a large list. That’s how it winds up in spam.

Do your homework. Find a few prospective clients or referral sources who are likely to need or want something you provide or know someone who might.

Personalize your message. Tell them where you got their name, show them you know what they do, that you’ve looked at their website (and liked something) or you know someone they might know.

Then, don’t be so quick to ask for a date.

Don’t offer your services, even a free consultation or one-hour free review as this fellow did. You’re asking for too much too soon.

They don’t know you or trust you. You have a ways to go to earn that.

Instead, offer them information. Not about you, about something that might be useful or interesting to someone who does what they do.

Information that will help them do a better job for their clients or customers, for example, or help them save time or money or get better results.

Follow-up in a few days, see if they got your first email and offer the information again.

There are other ways to approach a stranger but this is about as simple as it gets. If you use some common sense and provide decent information, it can bring you some business.

Some recipients will read your report or article, see that you know your stuff and be open to learning more about you. Make sure your report tells them how to do that.

And, once you have a few candidates who have expressed interest in learning more, stay in touch with them, get to know them and help them get to know you.

Networking 101, with email.

How to use email to build your practice

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