Over the next year, I’ll be writing an article about business development in each CMCP newsletter. While I’m sure you want me to focus on the one technique that will instantly expand your practice, this article will focus instead on the attitude shift you might have to make before you start to implement your marketing plan. (You do have a written marketing plan, don’t you? In case you don’t, we’ll talk about that in detail in a future issue).
During my conversations with attendees of the CMCP annual conference, I realized that most of you are focused on the “how” of business development. Certainly, there are basic techniques you need to know, and your success will depend on your ability to have a disciplined, consistent approach to “biz dev.”
But the “how” is just one part of the process. In a recent conversation, an attorney kept emphasizing that he just needed to know some good “closing” techniques. If you are a salesperson, it’s great to know how to close a sale. But there’s an important distinction here. You are an attorney (or you work with attorneys). Business development is different from sales in at least one significant way. Rather than completing a one-time transaction, you are providing a professional service that will, hopefully, lead to a long relationship with a client. The key word here is relationship.
Your success at biz dev will be the result of building relationships, not simply performing tasks. So, while you may think you just need to read one more sales book or master one more technique, I’ll encourage you to change your emphasis from “doing” to “being.” Everyone can engage in the same tasks (doing), but each one of you is a unique person who can connect with others in your own way (being).
Perhaps the following information will be helpful to you. I have been learning just enough about neuroscience to know two things:
One, human brains are wired to connect with each other. We love making connections and finding out what we have in common with other people. The more you talk about your interests in life, the more likely you are to connect with another person.
Think about the times you have talked with others about children, sports, pets, books, restaurants or even where you went to law school. I’m guessing that most of those topics led to some common ground, or connection, with another person.
Two, every face to face conversation creates neural pathways in our brains. The more often we meet in person, the more pathways we develop. You probably know what I’m going to say next. The more pathways you create, the deeper your connection. That connection is what helps you build relationships. These personal relationships are what lead to business relationships and referrals from and to other people. Ultimately, clients hire you because they trust you. That trust comes from familiarity and connection.
Two Rules of Business Development
Before I close, I know you want to have specific advice about business development right now. I promise to cover more tasks in future newsletters, but for now, the philosophy behind all of my biz dev advice hangs on these two rules:
1. It’s all about the client.
2. It’s a face to face activity.
My definition of client is pretty much the whole world. Almost anyone you meet can be a potential client, a referral source, or provide a real life or virtual introduction to people you want to meet. So the next time you attend a networking event, think about the kinds of conversations you would have if each person there could eventually be an important client. In other words, the focus of the conversation would be the other person.
Now that you know about neural pathways, the second rule is easy to understand. It is important to get out of your office and talk with other human beings. That’s how you create the relationships that lead to success. And the relationships are what shift your marketing plan from an arduous task to something enjoyable.