The one constant we know is change. The business environment has undergone a sea of change and the way we develop new business relationships has to adapt. The traditional cookie-cutter business development (BD) approach taught to introverts and extroverts alike does not work. Neither does the “network or perish” mentality. And let’s be honest: What worked for some in the past didn’t work for everyone anyway. In the age of Zoom and Teams meetings, it’s time for a new approach to business development for lawyers, one that makes the most of an individual’s:
- Professional capabilities and skills
- BD comfort level
- Personal preferences
Having a tool to identify your marketing and business development strengths, sales and BD perceptions, and relationship-building experiences is what will help you grow your book of business and your law firm in the current era.
Business Development of Today
Just as your practice area, goals and successes are different, so should be your approach to BD. To develop a workable business development plan that sets you up to meet your goals, begin by asking yourself these important questions:
- Do you know your BusinessDevelopmentIQTM (BDIQ)?
- What is your perception of BD?
- Do you enjoy networking events?
- Do you like to write?
- How much time do you (realistically) have to work on building relationships?
BDIQ is determined by your identity, perception, experience and commitment. It identifies whether you are an introvert, extrovert, ambivert or omnivert, which is useful for determining which BD activities will work best with your personality. Understanding your current perception of relationship-building and networking will allow a coach to identify goals to work toward.
Always tend to, appreciate and foster relationships, and build your fan base. If you’re a year or two out of law school, you will have different BD goals and targets from someone with more time in the profession. Build your network by staying in touch with friends and acquaintances from undergrad and law school.If you’re more experienced, you have the advantage of existing network connections, former employers and an understanding of the industries/areas you would like to target. Relationship development is the way to business development.
Finally, consider how much time you realistically have to work on your BD activities. Some attorneys are willing to put in the extra time to build relationships because they see the benefits and importance behind the practice. Others do not have the bandwidth, especially when caring for children or aging parents as well as being lawyers. It’s an important consideration because overcommitting can lead to disappointing results.
Having worked in business development for more than a decade, I know the majority of people are not comfortable with walking up to someone to start a conversation at a networking event. By creating a BD plan based on your personality, preferences and bandwidth, you’re setting yourself up for a much more positive (and ideally profitable!) experience.
Are you ready to try a different approach? Reach out to Rebecca Wenglinski at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or for more information.