The most important skill an attorney can have may be the ability to bring in clients. If you're a rainmaker, you will be successful. Yet, many attorneys make plenty of mistakes and overlook the critical skills of bringing in clients.
Whether it is arrogance or sloppiness, many attorneys miss out on coveted business opportunities simply because they don't know how to close a deal. This is especially true for new and younger lawyers.
Being Unprepared. You make an awful first impression if you can't take the time to properly research your potential client. You should at least be familiar with publicly available information about the company. Ideally, you should have some idea of the legal issues the company faces, as well as background information on the people you will be meeting.
Not Being in the Loop. Along with knowing something about your prospective clients, you should also know something about their industry and their competitors. Follow the legal and business trends in that particular field. If you have an informative and engaging discussion with the potential client on topics they want to know about, they will more likely hire you as their attorney.
Using Dated Materials. You should mention recent victories that happened months ago and save your war stories from five years ago for another time. In addition, slide shows and PowerPoints may be bland. Try to spice up your materials by incorporating multimedia and new technology.
Being Shady About Fees. Clients want to know how much they have to pay. In fact, that may be one of their most important considerations. Saying you are "flexible" or being otherwise evasive about fees will not cut it. You should be upfront about fees, and provide as much detail as possible.
Over-complicating Matters. More is not always better. You don't need 50 people in the boardroom when two will do just fine. You also don't need to prepare a ton of presentations and reading materials, if only a few are necessary. Clients appreciate a thorough, yet concise, meeting. They can sense fluff material when they see it.