Certain summers when the sun shines just the right way, and the squirrels make other vacation plans, magic happens, and I get loads of peaches from my tree.
Other years, just one or two survive and make it to maturity.
The same is true with business development activities. There are seasons where your clients will ask you to support them on new matters, and referrals from other lawyers will come flooding in. Yet there are those months when your business development efforts feel like they are at a standstill.
The best business development plans I see are ones that are based on
– Great execution
– Building personal connections and chemistry
– Persistent (but never obnoxious) follow-up with contacts
Yet there are times you can do everything right, and you don’t see the impact, at least not in the season in which you expect your work to bear fruit.
Sometimes, a potential client doesn’t have an assignment for which you or your firm is the right match.
Other times, your solution is out of the fee range.
Often, there is an incumbent with an inside track or other politics are at play.
But like any other skill, your odds will increase the more you practice and the more consistently you show up.
What can you do?
Business development is a continuous practice.
You can’t expect to do it in starts and fits. Your contacts require nurturing, and there is no good season or bad season in which to be reaching out.
While it may feel like rejection, once you hear “no” from a prospect, view it as the beginning of a conversation.
Remain in touch with people who show interest in your expertise. Their situation and needs may change over time, and you’ll want to keep the door open for them.
Keep your calendar full.
Continue to meet new people and cultivate connections. Research has shown that those who maintain a more diverse network are much more likely to build successful practices. In addition, knowledge from various disciplines is always an accelerant for new ideas.
Use technology to remain in touch with your contacts.
If you have a marketing department, ask for their advice on utilizing the firm’s contact management system, and if they don’t have one, create your own or look at an off-the-shelf situation. Of course, LinkedIn is also a great way to build your contact list and remain in touch with those you know.
Most of all, understand that building a practice takes time, effort and tending.