At a dinner party I sat next to an acquaintance, named Tony, whom I had not seen in a while. As we were catching up, he naturally asked, “So how’s business?”
Questions like Tony’s represent a critical moment in such exchanges, and how we respond shapes what follows. “How’s business?” and “How are things going?” are socially obligatory questions, often asked in lieu of something more original and without a care as to the answer. A one-word reply, even a positive one — “fine,” “good,” “great” — doesn’t give the other person much to sink his teeth into and generally serves to put the brakes to what could be a productive conversation.
So instead of giving him some monosyllabic reply, I said, “Tony, I've been in business since 1993, and last year was my best ever, last quarter was my best ever, and last month was my best ever.”
The way Tony looked at me changed. After a pause, he suggested that I call a certain attorney who, he thought, could use my help. I did, he returned my call (I suspect Tony played a role in that), and the story had a happy ending.
The happy ending had little to do with me or my marketing prowess; rather, it had a lot to do with recognizing that a positive, compelling description of your practice, told with some enthusiasm, creates a bandwagon onto which potential referral sources can jump.