Not enough time for biz dev?

The #1 objection I hear to undertaking business development activity is time. Nobody has an overabundance of time, and when there’s plenty of billable work on your plate, it’s often hard to free up time to bring in yet more work. (Willingness may be an issue, too. As I discussed recently in this article, in addition to the time crunch, you may unconsciously be resisting new business if you’re already very busy.).

Lack of time is a real concern, but it’s also illusory since we all make time for our top priorities. As Larry Winget has written, “Your time, energy, and money always go to what is important to you.” If you say you want to grow your practice and yet you never seem to have time for the requisite activity, you should reconsider your level of commitment.

Even so, finding time for business development activity takes dedication and ingenuity at times. I read a great article by Michael Hyatt, former Chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, whose work now focuses on leadership and platform building. Titled How To Blog If You Don’t Have Time, this article offers useful tips that are applicable beyond blogging. Item #3 in his list is my absolute favorite: use a timer to harness the power of a deadline. It’s also a winning strategy to beat procrastination.

Review Hyatt’s list and decide how you can create the time to engage in your business development activity. What’s your first step to implement?

How can you reach them?

You have competitors, and depending on your area of practice and your geographic area, you may have lots of competitors. How can you stand out? I’ve covered some options previously here and  here, for example.

One of the key ways to distinguish yourself is to go where your ideal clients and referral sources are and to deliver something of value to them. That often means speaking, writing, teaching seminars, and so on. All true, all potentially effective (especially if strategically selected with proper follow-up in place), but it all starts to sound a little wah-wah-wah, like the teacher’s voice in Charlie Brown TV specials and the NON-MOBILE version.

I read a good, if somewhat sensationalized, article this week titled 12 Most Savvy Ways to Go From Anonymity to Thought Leader. While it’s a bit of a stretch to say that using these 12 tactics will by themselves vault you to the top of your field, when you use them and direct your efforts to an appropriately niched audience, you will garner attention that will build your credibility as a practitioner.

The 12 tactics include: 

  • Address your customers’ concerns: find out what questions and concerns your clients have, then create articles, blog posts, issue updates, videos, podcasts, etc. to address those topics. Let your audience direct your content rather than expecting your content to influence your audience.
  • Go where your customer is: use multiple avenues of influence to reach your target clients, including traditionally published articles, blog posts, tweets, videos, podcasts, etc. Bonus tip: when you generate content in one format, ask yourself how else you might use that content. Don’t recreate the wheel every time.
  • Get quoted by the media: with the explosion of content generated every day, journalists need fresh sources. Get to know journalists and build connections (blogs and Twitter can be effective platforms for forming these connections) and offer your insight. Also be sure to subscribe to HARO and monitor it (or, better yet, have an assistant monitor it for you) for inquiries you might answer.
  • Shine in the light of a better-known partner: look for others who interact with and influence your ideal clients and who are well-respected by them, and look for opportunities to partner with them. 

The article includes either additional routes to raise your profile. Choose one or two and start implementing them today.

Get more productive and connected!

This week, I’d like to share 3 things I’ve found recently that have been tremendously helpful.

  1. My 1-3-5 List I recommend that you maintain at least two task lists: one that covers everything you need to do, broken down by task, project, and due date, plus one for today’s tasks. (Why “at least” two lists? If you sort your overall list effectively, a single comprehensive list of tasks is enough, but you might find that you prefer to maintain separate lists for individual projects or domains.)

    Clients often struggle with the daily list, either bulking it up with busy work or overwhelming it with so many tasks that it can’t possibly be completed in a single day. And that’s where My 1-3-5 List steps in. You use the list to define one big task for the day, three medium tasks, and five small tasks. I’ve been using the system for a few months now, and it’s made a huge difference in my productivity. Check out this free resource.

  2. Thinglist This one is only for iOS users. How do you keep track of the books you’d like to read, people you’d like to meet, and products you’d like to try? If you’re like most of us, you have notes floating around, either on paper or somewhere in Evernote, and your ideas get lost. Enter Thinglist, which lets you keep lists of things to investigate or do, on lists labeled Bar, Book, Food, Idea, Movie, Music, Person, Place and Product. Please insert image here.

    Business development applicability: keep a list of high priority contacts in your “People” list and add notes when you find a book or a restaurant you’d like to recommend. It makes it easy to be thoughtful. Get the app now.

  3. Livescribe For all the technology I use, I have to admit: I sometimes still think best with pen and paper. Livescribe is a pen that works with special paper to capture your pen strokes and import them into the Livescribe app, where you can keep the image of your handwritten notes or (using some models) digitize the notes and turn them into searchable text. You can upload your files to Evernote, Dropbox, and more.

    I’ve been using the Livescribe 3 since January, and I’ve found it useful to take notes during a client meeting without using a computer, which can create an artificial barrier to conversation. Livescribe isn’t perfect, but it beats anything else I’ve used.

What have I missed? I’d love to hear about any great resources you would recommend.

Do you really want more clients?

Good news! The hard copy of Legal Rainmaking Myths is finally available for purchase. You can pick up your copy here. And if you’ve read Legal Rainmaking Myths or the second edition of The Reluctant Rainmaker, please share your review here or here, respectively.

It seems obvious that growing your practice means you want to bring in new clients and new business, right? Without the consistent flow of new business, practices not only don’t grow: they die.

However, you might be surprised to learn that I not infrequently talk with lawyers who say they want to grow a practice, when deep down, they don’t want new business or new clients. That’s a conflict that will undermine your business development efforts every single time. And it’s especially corrosive because until the beliefs that keep the lawyer from wanting new business are uncovered, the failure just looks like inability to secure new work.

Why might a lawyer not want new business? A few examples:

  • the belief that clients are not being effectively served by the practice (this is especially common when a lawyer is considering a lateral move because of some philosophical objection to how the firm conducts its or its clients’ business)
  • feeling too busy as is and reluctant to open a flow of additional work, even though you rationally understand that busy will be replaced by bored if you don’t create a pipeline of work
  • working with clients you dislike, whether it’s because they’re inappropriately demanding or because you dislike the substantive work (who would intentionally set themselves up for more of what they dislike?)

Each of these reasons to avoid new business is likely unconscious, and yet action is governed by unconscious beliefs far more than we’d like to accept. 

The article The Uncomfortable Truth about Getting More Personal Training Clients describes the unconscious beliefs that run counter to the desire to get new clients as values conflicts, and it offers several steps to resolve those conflicts.

  1. Be honest about whether you’re facing a values conflict. Make the unconscious conscious–if it exists.
  2. Deal rationally with the values conflicts by answering the previously unconscious belief with what’s actually true. For example, recognize upsides to more business such as that having a steady pipeline of new work will allow you more control over which clients you work with, how you work with them, and so on.
  3. Establish clear boundaries for your clients and yourself. Put policies and systems in place so that you define how you will engage with your clients and how and when you will undertake business development activity.
  4. Invest in a marketing system. When you follow a system, you will automatically take steps toward new business without being controlled by values conflicts.

Sometimes we learn best by studying outside our own fields, and this article is a terrific example. Take a few minutes, translate from personal training to legal, and absorb the lessons.

Where are you stopping yourself?