Make a new year’s decision.

If you haven’t already done so, I invite you to make a decision (not a resolution) about how you will engage in and with business development activity going forward. Your consistent commitment makes the difference between a decision and a garden-variety resolution (which, statistically speaking, has a 25% chance of being broken within the first week and only a 46% chance of being maintained for more than six months).


End-of-year tasks

You probably have a list of tasks you must accomplish before the end of the year. Wrapping up some billable work, making a few final holiday get-togethers, perhaps a few last-ditch but gentle calls to encourage clients to pay their invoices before year’s end.

Adding these two year-end tasks will significantly benefit you as you start the new year:

  • Revise your biographical sketch to reflect this year’s accomplishments, and
  • Do a simple review of your 2021 business development activities to guide next year’s efforts.

Your biographical sketch is almost certainly the most-viewed page on your website.

Updating it isn’t busywork: it’s a way of letting people know that you continue to improve your professional reach and achievements. An out-of-date bio sketch suggests an out-of-date practice. Review this post I wrote in 2009 to walk through steps to ensure that your sketch does what it needs to.

End-of-year planning can take many forms. Here are a few questions to consider:

  • What was your objective and top priority this year? You must start with this question because results are meaningful only in the context of your objectives. For example, my goal this year was business maintenance and writing. Achieving maintenance would feel completely different had my objective been to grow the business.
  • What worked? What got you closer to your objectives? What required the least effort while bringing good results?
  • What didn’t work? Which activities either didn’t bring you the desired results or required effort that’s out of measure with the results attained?
  • What’s your objective for this year? I like to boil my objective down to a single word that can act as a litmus test when I’m deciding what to do. As noted, my 2021 word was maintain. It kept me from drawing back too far or pushing forward too strongly. I haven’t yet committed to a word for 2022, but candidates include growth (growth in my business and professional growth), reach (growing my platform), and communicate (building stronger professional relationships and also writing and speaking more).
  • What will you continue, stop, and start doing to meet your objective? Your 2021 analysis will give you the first two answers, then you can brainstorm your new routes to 2022’s objectives.

The key to planning well is to make it a means to an end. In other words, what comes from your planning should be a document that you will refer to and tweak throughout the year, not a “one and done” effort.

Set aside some time to complete these two tasks now so you can enter 2022 with a clean slate and a clear direction.

To my readers who celebrate Christmas, I wish you a very merry Christmas with your loved ones.

When you plan to “try”

When confronted with a new, daunting challenge, many of us have a tendency to say we’ll try.

In the business development context, that might show up as, “Oh, I hate networking, but I know I need to meet new people, so I’m going to try attending the monthly entrepreneur’s meetup.” Or “I know I need to be easier to find online, so I’m going to try to publish a few articles this year.” Or “It’s been a couple of years since I looked at my business development plan, so I’m going to do that and try to get it updated this month.” Or… Well, you get the picture.

Here’s the truth about saying, “I’ll try”:


Sometimes “I’ll try” does mean “I plan to make a legitimate and strategic effort to accomplish this goal.” If that’s what you mean, leave out “try” and just say you plan to do it. Of course, there’s a risk of failure—there’s always a risk of failure—but leaving out the fuzzy word “try” may help to minimize that risk.

I urge an honest and pragmatic approach to business development. So if you aren’t fully committed to undertaking an action (and by fully committed, I mean intending to take planned, strategic, and consistent action), don’t kid yourself. You don’t have to do everything—in fact, you can’t do everything—so acknowledge what you can and can’t do (or will and won’t do) and leave “trying” on the sidelines.

Why market on price?

There’s no doubt that price is a factor in most buying decisions. However, price is not the only factor, and it doesn’t have to be the most important factor. Consider this:


If you want to command a higher fee, deliver extraordinary quality, convenience, service, and value. How to do that is a long conversation. How do your clients judge quality? What does convenience look like for your clients? How can you create additional value for your clients? And finally, how can you provide client service in a way that produces quality, convenience, and value? Answering those questions typically requires some digging, but it’s a worthwhile pursuit.

Here’s the deeper thought, though…

If you market on price, doesn’t that in effect concede that you don’t deliver extraordinary quality, convenience, service, or value?

Do you need a CRM?

Relationship development is a key part of any business development initiative. That’s why we put so much effort into meeting new people, getting to know them, and following up with them over time. But how do you gather and track the relevant must-know information about your contacts?

Enter the CRM: the Client (or Customer) Relationship Management system.

(One prefatory note for the rest of this conversation: if you’re working in a larger firm, you may have access to the firm’s CRM and consider that sufficient for your purposes. Before you reach that conclusion, find out how easily you will be able to extract your contacts’ information should you leave the firm. If it’s at all difficult, given the reality of today’s professional world, don’t rely on the firm’s system.)

A CRM is most often software (local or in the cloud) that organizes contacts and information about them, but it need not be highly technology-driven. Some people successfully use spreadsheets, Outlook, Evernote, or even a Word file. CRM software offers functional advantages.

Here’s a list of features and attributes your CRM system should include:

  • The system must be accessible from wherever you are.
  • The system must be secure.
  • The system must be a centralized and easy-to-update repository for contact data, including address, email, and telephone as well as business and personal interests.
  • The data within the system must be sortable (so you can identify people who are located in a city before you visit, for example).
  • The system should include a tickler function to prompt you to follow up with clients and contacts on the schedule you define.
  • The system should track your communications so you can see when you last spoke with a contact and what you discussed.
  • The system should allow for easy import and export of your data.
  • Optionally, the system may save a library of resources you can use for follow-up contacts.
  • Optionally, the system may include some automation to streamline your efforts. 

Why might you not want to use a CRM? If you won’t keep it updated, a CRM may do you more harm than good. Otherwise, a CRM is a good investment to facilitate building your network.