A nurse’s comment on last week’s blog prompted this week’s content. She asked me how an attorney could be impressed by her writing style if she had never submitted a report for his review. The reality is that others form opinions of us with the first contact that occurs, whether that is through verbal or written communication.
One of the hardest things to write is an introductory email to a potential referral source. What do we say to catch someone’s attention? How do we present ourselves in a positive fashion and highlight our strongest features? No matter how highly we value our services or believe in ourselves, the person we need to impress has his or her own priority. And it is not us.
Attorneys are no different from anyone else; their own needs take precedence. Ideally, your email to a potential referral source arrives in their inbox at the exact same moment they need what you have to offer. If your expertise is not needed, your offer of service may go unnoticed.
If your email includes a link to a site/article/story relevant to the attorney’s practice area, it may marinate in his Inbox like an electronic Postit, but that is far preferable to being ignored, or even worse, deleted. These are surefire ways to have your email deleted or ignored:
- Writing a novella about your background
- Failing to research his practice, so you offer him medmal services when he only does product liability
- Describing yourself in superlatives or absolutes
- Using poor grammar, misspelling words or otherwise appearing less intelligent than you really are
- Saying the same thing everyone else does (like listing all the 40 skills you have that will make his practice run smoother, give him more time, make him more money and win him cases.
Keep that first email short, pointed, and professional; this says you respect his time. Making it longer will not ensure a response and might land you in the Trash no matter how well it is written.
After I read your post last week, I re-proofread everything I was about to e-mail out. I wrote thank-you’s back for those who kept my resume on file or passed it on to colleagues, and made every attempt to make sure what I sent was professional and worded well. Ironically, I got a decent lead from a thank-you, not from the original e-mail. I didn’t get a job from it, but I did make a good connection and I got some free advertising to boot. Thanks for planting the seed!