Personality Goes a Long Way: The Importance of Likeability for Attorneys’ Business Development Success
It seems that a week doesn’t go by that I’m not urging an attorney that they should let their hair down a bit in their online and offline communications. Show some personality. Demonstrate that they have a sense of humor and that they’re not too full of themselves. Or as I sometimes put it, allow yourself to be human.
Why do I feel so strongly about this? Because the world is filled with far too many attorneys who are afraid to pull back the professional curtain or take off the all-business mask. And it’s hurting them – even if they don’t know it. It’s hurting them because it violates the time-tested troika of business development success: People do business with those they Know, Like and Trust. And yes, that’s true even when it comes to hiring lawyers. Note that “Like” is the bridge to get prospective clients from “Know” to “Trust.” And if you don’t think this applies to attorneys, consider this age-old axiom: “People hire lawyers, not law firms.” Is that true in every case? No, but it’s certainly an important – and neglected – bit of wisdom.
One very well known individual who has difficulty talking about himself is a non-practicing attorney named Mitt Romney. He just had a bit of a coming-out party down in Tampa. The lead-up to Romney’s acceptance speech – and one of the main goals for the Republican National Convention – was that Romney and various family members and friends were going to showcase his character, his personality and his private side that thus far he had been unwilling to share. Republican pollsters were very concerned because Romney’s likeabiity factor was far below Obama’s. And as any politico can tell you, that matters a lot on Election Day.
Why is this important to you? Because you have your own Election Day every time that you meet with a prospective client. And because the unwillingness or inability to talk about oneself in a personal or humble or compelling way is epidemic among attorneys all across this great land of ours – and it’s hurting their careers, just as the political pollsters have found that it’s hurt Romney thus far in the presidential race.