Even if we know what we want, if we don't know how we'll go after it, our chances of success are slim, and we're relying on blind luck. Most lawyers just kind of wander around, hoping to bump into someone who wants to hire them.

What was my strategy and plan in support of the goal I described above?

First, I’d scan name tags to make sure the person was from a law firm. If not, I’d keep moving, acting as if I was sorry I couldn’t chat but had to locate someone. The truth was that I was looking for someone, and if you’re not with a law firm, it wasn’t you.

When I spotted a law firm name on a tag, I’d introduce myself and extend the expected courtesies of asking the lawyers their practice specialty. If I knew something about the firm (another good reason to focus on one industry) I’d mention it. If I’d never heard of the firm, I’d apologize for not being familiar and ask what type of firm it was.

Having dispensed with the necessaries, I’d immediately test for the presence or absence of the problem that drove demand for my service. “Gee, it seems like big firms like yours have a lot of partners with impressive contact lists, but not-so-impressive books of business. Is that true of your firm?” It was a virtual certainty that they’d laugh and acknowledge that I’d hit the nail squarely on the head.

The only remaining tasks were to get them to estimate how many partners matched that description, and speculate on the potential economic value of converting a higher percentage. They’d conclude that I understood big law firms pretty well, and would ask what I did for a living. “I help lawyers convert contacts into clients.” Then, I’d graciously say I didn’t want to monopolize their time at the event, and ask a connecting question: “Does it make sense for us to discuss this more by phone sometime over the next few days?”

If yes, we’d agree on a mechanism to arrange that. If no, I’d shake their hand and move on, continuing to hunt for my first, second, or third real prospect of the evening.