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It's The Little Things: A Short Story

A CPA friend of mine recently had a first-time meeting with a lawyer regarding a client they share. My friend relayed to me a story that reinforces the adage about first impressions.

First, she had to wait for the lawyer (let's call her Ms. Demeanor) for about ten minutes beyond their appointed time, because, as the lawyer's secretary said, "she is wrapping up an important matter right now." Need I say how that made my CPA friend feel? When Ms. Demeanor finally admitted my friend to her office, the lawyer was unprepared: she couldn't find her file (which was not surprising, since her office was a mess) and apparently had not reviewed any material before the meeting. My CPA friend also noted that Ms. Demeanor was wearing jeans and a sloppy sweater on a weekday; this did not impress my more conservative colleague.

When I asked my friend what the chances were that she would refer business to Ms. Demeanor, of course you know her response: "Zero." How could she feel certain that Ms. Demeanor would treat her referrals any better than she had been treated?

If you want more referrals, pay attention to details, whether it be punctuality (which is really another expression of courtesy), preparedness or appearance. The most finely honed technical skill is nearly irrelevant in developing business if you overlook the little things.

© Melinda Guillemette 2009