New clients will not fall from the sky. Business development takes work, and if you want to get more clients you will need to develop habits that lead to building long-term and mutually beneficial relationships. The practice of law and building a business around that practice is all about human relationships. You have to be able to connect with people to negotiate settlements, navigate complex deals, argue in front of a judge and jury, and most importantly to win the client in the first place.
If business development was easy, every lawyer would have an overflowing book of business. But most do not. The average lawyer does not have enough work to keep them busy. If you are reading this article, I assume you are searching for ways to make your career above average. You want to get clients so that you can do the work you love. The power is in the little things. Throughout this series of articles I am sharing simple ideas that alone seem simple and probably useless. But when you combine the suggested actions over time you will see success.
Many times in these articles I have suggested that you look closely at what the most successful attorneys in your area of practice. Reverse engineer their habits by observation or ask them to directly share with you the things they do. The lawyers I have seen who always are getting leads and winning business have some sort of personal rituals.
What is a personal ritual? It is something you do that may be easy, but that others do not do consistently. It is these small habits that stitch together over time and make you a force of nature. The sad part is there are no shortcuts. If you think that reading this will mean that your phone will ring next week, then you are setting yourself up for disappointment. There is not fairy dust that will make you good at winning clients. But if you take your business development efforts seriously and make them part of your daily routine… then your odds of establishing a successful career get much better.
Do you currently have any sales / business development habits? Below are just a few ideas. You have to embrace the rituals or you will not do them regularly. Thus, use these ideas to inspire, not as your exact roadmap:
Daily Out-Reach. Have you the habit of reaching out to clients, prospects, referral sources, etc…. Out of sight is out of mind, and while you should not be calling for the sake of calling, or sending check in emails without value, if you have a real purpose and can have conversations with people, they will appreciate you for it. We have talked before about the fact that you should have some sort of meaningful contact with people each quarter.
Sending Handwritten Notes. Few things stand out more than old fashioned snail mail. People get very few personalized pieces of mail, so sending handwritten notes to say “nice to meet you” or “thank you” is a great habit. I suggest you send five handwritten notes a week. Again, they need to have a purpose (maybe “happy birthday” or “congrats on the new job”), but if you are successfully connected to enough people you can find legit reason to communicate with a pen and stationary. When was the last time you sent a handwritten note? If you cannot remember, maybe you are missing out.
Posting to LinkedIn or Other Social Media. It is easy to let social media be forgotten. If you have a LinkedIn account but never post, like, comment or share, why do you have the account? Make it a habit that you long on two or three times a week. In just ten or 15 minutes you can make an impact.
Leverage Your Network. Are you seen as a connector. Do you introduce people who should know each other and want to see others succeed via making new contacts? You should be doing this and asking your connections what type of people they need to meet. When you make connecting others a habit it will become part of your brand. People want to be closer to connectors, as almost everyone needs to meet people. Since all opportunities come from people, the more often you make introductions, the more often others will connect you to key people.
Successful sales people in every industry have personal rituals. If you have none, it is time to change that.