How to start a conversation without sounding creepy

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I just read an article based on an interview with Terry Gross, the host of NPR’s “Fresh Air”. Over the last 40 years, she’s conducted thousands of interviews and offered her advice on the best way to start a conversation.

The only icebreaker you need, she said, is to say: “Tell me about yourself.”

She says “this is much more effective than the dreaded, “So what do you do?” because you don’t make any assumptions about the other person.”

She prefers her way because it, “. . . allows you to start a conversation without the fear that you’re going to inadvertently make someone uncomfortable or self-conscious. Posing a broad question lets people lead you to who they are.”

Naturally, I have a few thoughts about this.

First, if you know your audience and you’ve done your homework on the person you’re interviewing, you should be the one in the lead. If you leave it up to the interviewee, they’ll take you places you and your audience don’t necessarily want to go.

Second, making people a bit uncomfortable can lead to a more interesting interview.

Okay, this is coming from a lawyer, not the host of a cultural events show, so take it for what you will. But you know I’m right, don’t you?

Anyway, I picked up the article because I thought I’d learn a new way to start a conversation with a stranger, while networking for example. Something better than, “What do you do?”

Nope.

If a stranger comes up to me and says, “Tell me about yourself,” I’m pretty sure I’d be creeped out and say something like, “Why do you ask?” or “Who the hell are you?”

I have issues.

Seriously, if you want to start a conversation with a stranger, stick with what other people expect to hear and are prepared to respond to.

You can pick up on something you see or you heard them say. You can pay them a compliment, e.g., “I like your tie”. Or you can ask a simple question, e.g., “Have you heard this speaker before?”

Easy. Everyone’s comfortable.

Once you’ve broken the ice and you’re having a conversation, ask them “What do you do?” Because you want them to ask you what you do.

And, if you’re conducting an interview, for a podcast or video or because you’re writing a book, get my book, The Easy Way to Write a Book. You’ll learn some non-creepy ways to start the conversation and get to the good stuff.

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Get my book free on Kindle

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You may recall that I interviewed appellate attorney Steve Emmert and published that interview as a Kindle book. In the interview, we talked about how he built his “appellate only” practice at a time when other attorneys told him that was not impossible.

He explained what he did to defy the odds and become the top appellate attorney in his market. He offered advice for attorneys who want to start an appellate practice or take theirs to the next level.

Of course, we also talked about marketing and much of what he does is applicable to marketing any practice area.

If you haven’t read “How to Build a Successful Appellate Practice,” for the next few days you can get a free copy here (Note, you don’t need a Kindle device to read Kindle books.)

I’m giving the book away because I have another book coming out about how I conducted the interview and turned it into a book. It shows you how to use “expert interviews” to quickly write and publish a book and use it to promote your practice.

I’ll let you know when the new book is available. In the meantime, get your copy of How to Build a Successful Appellate Practice.

 

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Another way your clients can help your practice grow

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Will you be seeing any clients today? This week? Good. When you’re done with your meeting, ask them if they can help you out with something and tell them it will only take 15 minutes.

When they ask what you have in mind, tell them you want to ask them a few questions about their experience with you and your office.

When they agree, ask them if it would be okay if you record the conversation. And then, do a brief interview.

Ask some basic questions about why they needed a lawyer, how they found you, and what you did for them. Ask about:

  • Their background/occupation
  • The legal issue or objective that prompted them to seek legal help
  • How they found you (referral, search, other)
  • If they saw your website, what did they read, what did they like?
  • Did they talk to other lawyers before they decided to hire you?
  • Why did they choose you?
  • What did you do for them/how did you help them?
  • What did they like best about having you as their lawyer?
  • Is there anything they think you need to improve? Anything you don’t do but should?
  • Would they recommend you? What would they say about you?

And so on. You’ll think of other questions, and they’ll volunteer statements about their experience with you and your firm.

At the end of the interview, ask them if it would be okay to post their comments on your website or put them in your newsletter. Ask them if you could use their name. You might also ask for a head shot photo, or take one on the spot.

Have the interview transcribed. You might use the transcript in it’s entirety, or lift quotes from it and use them in a “client profile”.

There are several benefits to doing this:

  • It’s an easy source of content for your blog or newsletter
  • You’ll get lots of readership. Your other clients and prospective clients like to see what others say about their experience with you
  • The interviewed client will “sell” readers on hiring you, so you don’t have to.
  • Their positive comments help your other clients feel good about their decision to hire you
  • The interviewee may share your post with their friends and followers, bringing you more traffic and more clients (indirect referrals)
  • If your client owns a business, this is a simple way for you to promote that business; they’ll also be likely to share your post
  • You’ll get feedback about what you’re doing right, and ideas you can use to add value

Go ahead, give this a try. Your clients will be flattered that you want to interview them. And once you see how easy this is, you’ll want to do it again.

Could you interview one client per month? Of course you could. If you do, and you write a weekly blog post or article, one-quarter of your monthly content will be taken care of.

More ways to get your clients to provide referrals

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Marketing legal services: let other people do it for you

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You don’t want to blog or do a podcast but other people in your niche do. They need people to interview and people to write guest posts.

You, for example.

Find blogs and podcasts and video channels in your niche and introduce yourself to the head guy or gal. Compliment their work. Promote their content to your lists. Comment on their posts. Get on their Hangouts and contribute to the conversation.

Stay on their radar and eventually they will ask if they can interview you. In fact, once they know who you are, let them know that you are available and you’ll probably move to the front of their list.

By helping them, you help yourself. Your interviews and posts will get your name and contact information in front of people who need your services or who know someone who does. You’ll get more traffic to your website, more followers on social media, and more subscribers for your list. New clients will be next.

Remember, they need content and they can only create so much themselves. They need people like you to help them. As you help them, you help yourself.

The more you get your name out there, the more other bloggers and podcasters will seek you out. Marketing will get easier for you. Instead of doing one interview this month you’ll have three interviews this week.

Soon, your target market will see you “everywhere” and they will know that when they need a lawyer who does what you do, you are the one they want. Other professionals will see that you are in demand and choose you for their referrals.

Help others with their marketing and they will help you with yours.

Learn more about marketing legal services online, here

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How to write your first book (or your next book)

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Admit it, you know you’d love to write a book.

You’re smart. You know that being an author will look great on your bio. You know that a book can bring traffic to your website and prospects for your practice. You know that having a book can help you acquire new business contacts and referral sources and open doors to many other marketing opportunities.

But you haven’t written a book because you don’t know what to do and you don’t think you have the time.

So it’s on your “someday” list.

Forget that. Let’s get your book done in the next few days.

How? I gave you the answer yesterday, when I announced my latest book, “How to Build a Successful Appellate Practice.” If you read the book, you know that the quickest and easiest way to write a book is to not write one at all.

I “wrote” this book in a few hours by interviewing an expert. I asked questions, he answered, and 90% of the book was done. I added an introduction and summary, which were taken from the interview, and my bio with links to my website.

Done and done. Bada bing, bada boom.

It’s a short book, but a good book. Solid information presented in an interesting way.

And you can do the same thing. You can use the interview method to write your first book, or your next book.

Then, promote the book and let the book promote you. Tell everyone you know about your book. Post it as a pdf on your website. Give it away to clients and prospects. Your book provides them with helpful information and shows them that you know important people, reinforcing the notion that you too are important.

And, in case you haven’t figured it out, the person you interview will also promote the book. Proudly. They’ll tell everyone about it, and thus, tell everyone about you.

In “The 30 Day Referral Blitz” I told you about the many ways you can use a report to grow your practice. If you haven’t read that, you owe it to yourself to do so immediately. But as good as a report is, a book is even better.

So here’s your homework.

Call an attorney you know in another practice area, one that complements yours. If you handle personal injury, for example, call someone who does workers compensation or Social Security disability.

Then, interview each other, and turn the interviews into books. You’ll thank me later.

Get “The 30 Day Referral Blitz” here

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I’d love to interview you

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You get an email from an admirer. Someone who reads your blog, gets your newsletter, or sees your social media posts. Or someone who heard you speak and thought you were the bees knees.

They have their own blog or newsletter, and they want to interview you and share your wisdom with hundreds (or thousands) of readers who happen to be in your target market. The interview will be 20-30 minutes over the phone, or they can send you five or ten questions you can answer via email.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? Some great exposure for you. Could bring in a lot of new clients. The answer is “yes”.

Of course it is. And that’s exactly what the person you ask to interview for your blog or newsletter will say when you reach out to them.

That’s right, while you’re waiting for someone to ask you for an interview, you find people with a following in your target market and interview them.

You’ll get interesting content for your blog or website or newsletter. Your readers will like it, and like you for sharing it, and you don’t have to do any writing.

You’ll get traffic to your site, via search engines and social sharing. More prospective clients, more subscribers for your list.

You’ll get traffic and subscribers from the friends and followers of your interview subject who will undoubtedly promote the interview to his lists.

And you’ll get a new contact who appreciates the opportunity to be interviewed and who will at some point realize that they should interview you.

So, what are you waiting for? Go interview someone.

Marketing online for attorneys: Click here

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