Billable time or biz dev… Or both?

Last week, I delivered a business development workshop for an Atlanta law firm, and gave my recommendations about how much time lawyers should spend on business development.  Although the exact number depends on several factors, in general I recommend 1-5 hours a week, with more time suggested for more senior lawyers.  Some participants bristled at the idea of spending that much time on business development.

But here’s the easy-to-miss, critical distinction: done properly, time spent with clients is business development time.

That’s because, “All things being equal, people will do business with – and refer business to – those people they know, like and trust.” This quote, from Bob Burg’s excellent book Endless Referrals, sums up why it is that relationships serve as the basis for rainmaking. It also clarifies why your current clients should be your top priority for business development, followed by former clients and referral sources, then “warm” contacts, and only finally strangers.

Focus first on those who already know, like, and trust you, and then seek to expand those sources of business. That order of approach dictates, in turn, the priorities that you should set as you work to develop your book of business.

Your current clients are your “low hanging fruit.” Your top priority should be providing excellent client service to your clients. Consider these aspects of client service:

  • Communicate with your clients and observe their preferences for amount and kind of communication that they want.
  • Be responsive. Manage your clients’ expectations and ensure that your clients always know how to contact you or someone in your office.
  • Share bad news appropriately. Deliver the news as soon as possible. Explain the news, what it means, and advise the client about next steps.
  • Be reliable with cost estimates and billing.
  • When you bill, do so in a comprehensible way that’s explained sufficiently to forestall questions about what was done or why.
  • Facilitate your work with your clients. Anything you can do to make it easier for your clients to do business with you is likely to be well received by them.
  • Spend time with your clients. Consider spending time with clients in a social setting or (where appropriate) by visiting their place of business to develop a more full understanding of their business.
  • Deliver extra value to your clients. By providing some assistance, promotion, or service to your client that is over and above the legal services you’ve agreed to provide, you demonstrate the importance you place on your client relationships generally and on that client specifically.
  • Conduct client satisfaction interviews or surveys. Unless you ask, your clients are unlikely to volunteer their level of satisfaction unless they’re dissatisfied to the point of considering terminating the relationship or effusive in praise.

When you apply these priorities to your business development efforts, you’ll begin to view your billable work as a rainmaking activity as well as the heart of your practice. You’ll also begin to see relationships as the “must do” meat of your business development plan, and you’ll understand why you shouldn’t expect to move a new contact quickly from stranger to client. As a result, you’ll be able to stage the rainmaking work you do so that you put time in where it’s most effective. And over time, you’ll find that your business development work yields much better results.

Proper planning can help relieve pressure.

“Pressure is what you feel when you don’t know what you are doing.” Peyton Manning

This quote stopped me in my tracks. My first inclination was to disagree, because I sometimes feel pressure because of a deadline or because of the importance of some activity, even though I know what I’m doing.  Digging a bit deeper, though, I think Manning has a point.

When it comes to business development, the lawyers most under pressure are those who don’t have a cohesive plan, who aren’t implementing their plan consistently, or who haven’t fully committed to one or more activities that are likely to help them secure work.  Although they know what they’re doing on certain levels, there’s a disconnect between intellectual knowing and buckling down to do the work. If you know that you should request an on-site meeting with a client, for example, and you expect that you might well land more business or receive a referral or even deepen a valuable relationship, but you don’t ask for the meeting, you’re going to feel pressure.

In contrast, if you have a plan that you’re implementing consistently, though you may feel tension until you see results from your plan, that tension is different in nature. When you know what you’re doing, both in terms of the specific activities and the timing, you also know that you can shift your plan as needed to tweak your results.

You know that you have something that’s fundamentally workable. You’ve done your homework and you’ve prepared yourself and your plan.

Do you feel pressure about business development? If you do, take a few minutes today to get to the source of that pressure. You’ll probably find that it’s one of these issues:

  • You don’t know what you’re doing (you don’t have a plan or you don’t know how to implement some aspect of your plan)
  • You don’t know how to make time to implement your plan consistently (so you never have an opportunity to reach momentum)
  • You don’t know how to perform one or more activities incorporated in your plan (and so you haven’t even started)
  • You’re terribly uncomfortable about some aspect of your plan (you aren’t confident that you can engage in business development activity without harming relationships… or your ego)
  • You need to bring in new business now and you don’t yet know that your plan will work (you haven’t implemented your plan and you’re focusing on the need for business rather than on your ability to meet that need

Which of these issues underlies the pressure you’re feeling?  Once you’ve identified the problem, you’re that much closer to solving it. If you aren’t sure where to start, please schedule a complimentary consultation so we can get acquainted and mutually decide whether I can help.

How to avoid amassing untouched stacks of business cards that you should use for follow-up.

Here’s how it happens…

You get back to your office, having met some interesting new contacts, armed with their business cards and good intentions of following up. You take those cards, maybe flip through them to remind yourself of who’s most interesting, and then you put them somewhere safe, so you won’t forget. My “safe spot” was always on a bookcase just behind my desk. Yours might be your credenza or your desk drawer.

You think about following up with your new contacts. You want to find just the right opener. Something personal, to help recall your conversation, or better yet something you can share that brings value and is connected to your conversation.

And then you get distracted by a deadline or a phone call or someone dropping by your office with a quick question. Your thoughts shift to the task in front of you, and you remind yourself that you need to get back to that stack of cards.

The cycle repeats itself over the next few hours or days or even weeks. Having delayed this long to get in touch with your new contacts, you feel a pressure to have a strong follow-up. “Nice to meet you” just doesn’t cut it after two weeks, does it? But the memory of the conversations is getting dimmer, and you’re finding it harder and harder to come up with a good enough follow-up. Plus those distractions just keep coming.

And then, weeks or months later, you look at the stack of cards, sigh, and throw them away, resolving to do better next time. And you rationalize it. The contact wasn’t that interesting. The opportunity wasn’t that promising. Besides, they didn’t contact you either. Networking is a two-way street, and if they didn’t do their part, it’s ok that you never quite got around to the follow-up.

Sound familiar? Here are three steps you can use to shift this experience, follow up consistently, and get better results from your networking.

  1. Make a few notes immediately after networking so you can remember your new contacts. As soon as you leave the meeting, jot a few key words on the back of your new contact’s business card. If you’re a talker, dictate your notes using a service that will email a transcript to you right away. (You can find multiple apps, or use a service like LegalTypist.) Import the notes into a contact management system so you can use them for initial follow-up and to lay the groundwork for future contact.
  2. Have a deadline for your follow-up, with a personal “no extension” policy. Resolve that you will follow up within one to two days at the absolute outside, no matter what. (Nancy Fox suggests using the 30 minutes after a meeting for follow-up.) Set your deadline in advance and make it a part of your follow-up system.
  3. Extra credit: plan “connection time” at least twice a week. Use it for follow-up when you’ve met new contacts, or to connect with someone on your “A list” of contacts if not.
  4. Use a template to make your initial contacts easier. Use a template that you adapt to the circumstances, so your follow-up is always personal but never created from scratch. Having a starting point makes it much more likely you’ll get the initial follow-up done, whether your system calls for follow-up by telephone, email, or handwritten note. 

Once you’ve made your initial follow-up contact, calendar your next contact. You may not get a response to your initial follow-up, so be sure you know when you’ll be back in touch and how you’ll make that contact.

Networking without follow-up is a waste of time. Consistency builds relationships, and successful business development requires relationships, not just contacts. Implement your follow-up system today—especially if you have business cards collecting dust!

How to Decide Whether to Write an Article, Deliver a Presentation, or Attend a Conference

“Should I write an article for this publication? Should I accept this invitation to speak? Should I attend this conference?” Since neither time nor money is unlimited, you’ll have to make some difficult decisions about which business development activities to pursue and which to let pass.

Especially if you’re eager to get new business, it’s easy to accept any opportunity that crosses your path. Accepting scattershot opportunities will leave you with scattershot results, sap your energy and resources, and ultimately leave you exhausted.

When you’re evaluating an opportunity, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Will this activity reach the right audience?  Whether it’s writing for, speaking to, or networking with the wrong audience will not bring enough benefit to justify the investment of time, so ask this foundational question before you begin. Your business development plan will define the right audience. Who are your ideal clients and referral sources? That’s your audience.
  2. How much time will this require?  Be realistic in your estimate – before you begin.

  3. What results would make the expenditure of time worthwhile? As with any business development activity, you must measure the results that you get. What’s more, you must know, before you begin, what results would make it worthwhile for you to have undertaken this activity.
  4. What’s the opportunity cost of this activity?In other words, if you take on this activity, what must you give up? Look at the cost in both time and money. Consider, before you begin, whether you would be better advised to invest elsewhere.
  5. What non-business development benefits will you get from the activity? Depending on your stage in practice and your personal finances (or revenue from your practice), other benefits may outweigh a lack of clear business development payoff.

Depending on your strategy and plans, any activity can be a simple way to increase your professional reach or a time-consuming and ineffective approach.  Going through these questions will help you to make foundational decisions that will get you on the right track—before you undertake any new activity.

Will you clients and contacts think of you first when they need help?

Jon, a mid career lawyer working in a boutique law firm, handles white-collar criminal defense matters. Most of his clients come through referrals from other lawyers. Far too often, those lawyers fail to appreciate that they need someone who practices in the area every day. Instead, they try to handle a matter themselves. After doing the best they can and finding that their best is insufficient, they discover that they need someone who knows the government prosecutors and who can read the subtle signals in government requests.  That’s where Jon comes into the picture.

Jon can only get referrals early in the process—early enough to be of maximum assistance to the client—if the lawyers who send those referrals, think of him as soon as a white collar issue arises. A prevalent myth holds that simply being a great lawyer who gets great results is enough to bring in business. Unfortunately, if you are not top-of-mind for your clients and contacts, they won’t think to call you even if they do need you. What’s more, especially if you deal with clients who are not legally sophisticated, they may need you and not even know it. 

In an ideal world, your contacts will always think to call you when there’s a matter with which you might be able to help. In the real world, your contacts are likely to be so preoccupied with their own concerns that they won’t think of you unless you have taken steps to ensure that they know your skills and that you regularly engage with them.

What’s the solution? Deliver interesting and useful information to your clients (including former clients) and contacts on a regular basis, and use that delivery of information to build and maintain relationships with them.  When you engage in a useful way with your contacts, you raise your profile with those contacts. You may become the go-to person in a particular area of practice by virtue of the relationships you build over time.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Create a clear description of your practice, including examples. Test it to be sure that a wide variety of people understand what you do and what kind of work you handle.
  • Share that description (in a natural way) when you talk with others, and share the stories that will root that description in their memory. We’d all like to believe that a single explanation of the work we do is sufficient, but chances are that it isn’t.
  • Look for opportunities to deliver useful information. That delivery can come in the form of widely distributed newsletters or client alerts, or you can send interesting articles or thought snippets one-by-one. Just be sure the information you share is relevant and adds value for the recipient.
  • Whenever you get in touch with someone in your network, create opportunities to build the relationship just a little more. Relationship-building doesn’t have to mean a 3-hour lunch. It can be as simple as, “Did you catch the game last night? Do you follow [seasonal sport]? Who’s your team?” When you keep in touch, you’ll have plenty of chances to have a short exchange that will grow your relationship.

Everyone is operating inside his or her own bubble, and it’s your job to reach into the bubble (in a welcomed, non-intrusive way) as a reminder that you’re a likeable person who’s ready to help. Done properly, that message will be exemplified in everything you do, and you’ll feel much less pressure to make a plea for business.

How do I choose the right differentiators?

A reader recently sent in a question following this article about finding ways to stand out from other practitioners in your field. After outlining several potential points of differentiation, this general litigator asked, “I just can’t figure out how to make myself stand out in a town with thousands of attorneys.  I write, I speak, I’m involved – but I am not really generating any traction. How do I choose the right way to differentiate myself from everybody else?” 

My Answer: 

Distinctions come to be in one of three ways:

  1. By virtue of the practice area, such as Hatch-Waxman Act work or doing special needs trusts.
  2. Due to some particular experience or skill developed in the past, such as a patent licensing lawyer who has a background in tax issues and can therefore address at least some tax issues without having to resort to a tax lawyer.
  3. As the result of experience gained over time in one or two specific subcategories of a practice — which is what you describe with the concentrations you mentioned and (to a lesser degree) the classes you’ve taught as an adjunct professor.

When it comes to building your own practice (as distinct from looking to introduce potential clients to other firm lawyers in other areas of practice, for example), #3 is probably the most common way to set up a point of distinction.

When you’re deciding what to pursue to set yourself apart, think about whether the areas of practice you might pursue are ones you enjoy and could envision as the scope of your practice, the likelihood that those areas will hold steady and preferably expand over time, and the accessibility of a viable category of potential clients who would need help in those areas. If one of the substantive areas you’re considering tends to be cyclical, consider whether there’s a related practice area that is counter-cyclical. There’s nothing wrong with a cyclical practice area as long as the same factors that would drive business down in one area would drive it up in another.

Given that you’re in general litigation, I think you’ll end up with two avenues of distinction: one is substantive, as you’ve outlined above, and the second may be in terms of how you serve your clients. Think about what you can do to make it easy for your clients to do business with you, how you can provide a “value add” for them, and so on. Those take time to figure out, but keep it in the back of your mind and notice what you see that works well (or not) and what clients seem to value.

Most importantly, recognize that even though a distinction may sometimes occur organically, it more often is something that you will select and them bring to fruition. That means that you can choose your area(s) of focus and work to increase your experience and build your reputation in those areas, but it also means that you need to make your decision now and get moving.

Are You Tough Enough?

This week, I’d like to share some thoughts on determination.  Business development is not a one-time effort.  It isn’t rocket science, as the saying goes, but it does call for sustained effort over a long period of time, especially when things aren’t going quite as well as you’d like.  And that requires determination.

I could share stories of determined lawyers and those who let go too early, but I’d rather draw from other sources.  Sometimes we see best when we see outside our own worlds. 

The Determined Dog 

My dog is inspiring me with her example of deep-rooted, unshakeable determination.  (Even though I’m a certified dog nut, I never thought I would say that!)  Toward the end of my vacation, Patches got an infection and landed in the hospital.  This is the fourth round of something that’s nearly killed her three times – this last round hasn’t been as bad, fortunately.

One of the first signs of the infection is that she’ll limp for a couple of hours and then lose all use of the affected leg until the infection is gone.  In the past, she’s been unable to move much at all for a month or so.  She’d try, but getting up and walking was just too hard, and she’d stay in the same spot until I’d lift her and help her walk with a sling.

But this time, it’s almost as if she knows that she’s been through this before, that it’s annoying and unpleasant, but that she’ll be ok.  Instead of lying around, she’s been hopping from the first day.  Her entire being telegraphs, “I want to bark at squirrels and protect my pack, and nothing is going to get in my way!”

Patches’ body is weak right now, but her determination is strong, Hopping is difficult for her, and after she’s moved 10 feet or so, she’ll rest for a while, breathless, before picking up and moving on.  Unless, of course, there’s something she wants to do more than rest, and then she won’t allow her body to stop her.

Her infected leg is weak, but rather than letting that weakness stop her, she’s learned to compensate with her three strong legs.

ˆThe Disciplined Mind… with Safeguards

Before I left for vacation, I’d settled into a nice routine with my workouts.  Up at 5, at the gym around 5:30, and done around 6:30.  It wasn’t easy (especially since I’m not at all a morning person) but it had become habit and I’d maintained the effort for months.

One of the first things I remember learning about working out (years ago!) is that the mind will give up before the body does.  That’s a mantra I use most days in the gym, especially when I’m pushing myself, when my legs or arms hurt, I’m out of breath, I feel like I can’t keep going, and I want nothing more than to stop.

I’ve learned, after a lot of work, that I can pay attention to the discomfort and doubts, or I can crank up the music and keep on going until I achieve what I know I can do.  Even though Lance Armstrong is operating under a shadow these days, he nailed it with this quote:

Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever. That surrender, even the smallest act of giving up, stays with me. So when I feel like quitting, I ask myself, which would I rather live with?

There’s a confidence that comes with completing the designated task on a consistent basis.  It’s a confidence born of experience, and there’s no substitute for or shortcut to developing it. I haven’t hit my overall goals yet, but because I keep hitting the interim goals as planned, I know that I will reach that ultimate success. 

Even though I usually don’t let temporary discomfort derail me, I’ve learned that I need safeguards on some occasions.  Most recently, I knew I’d be facing a challenge to get back to the gym after being away for more than two weeks.  I wanted to be sure that I’d manage that challenge, so I booked an appointment with my trainer for the first day I planned to return to the gym.  No excuses on the time.  And, in fact, I booked a double appointment, for help with cardio as well as weight training.  No wiggle room on leaving out part of my planned workout.

And sure enough, the workout was not pleasant.  And my trainer encouraged me and pushed me, giving me the support and push that I needed so that I could do what I’d planned – and, in fact, to stretch a little bit further.  The next workout was much easier (mentally, if not physically), and my confidence continues to grow.

Questions for Reflection

The message here is pretty obvious.  Give some thought to these questions.

  • How developed is your determination when it comes to business development?
  • Are you making the most of your strengths and minimizing your weaknesses in rainmaking activities?
  • Do you have a solid business development plan in place?
  • Are you confident in your ability to put that plan into action and reach the goals you’ve set?
  • Have you identified danger zones, when you may be likely to slide backwards?
  • What support do you need to get through those danger zones and to stretch you beyond your comfort zone?  Do you need to line up additional help?

I’d love to hear your answers to these questions – just hit reply.  And, of course, I’d be happy to arrange a conversation with you if I might help you reach your business development goals. 

Catching attention, building connections

I recently spent nearly two hours sitting at an airport gate, sitting about 5 feet behind a stand with Delta American Express card representatives.  You’ve probably seen these stands: a table to the side of a concourse, with various promotional freebies, application forms neatly stacked, and one or two hawkers, trying desperately to get people to pause and fill out an application.

Annoying, right?  I drowned out the hawker’s calls.  But as I sat reading, I noticed that more people than usual were coming up to this table, and they were staying longer than usual to talk with the card rep.  So I started listening. And I re-learned something useful.

The average hawker bombards passersby with the “great offer” they simply “can’t pass up.” But this rep focused on individuals and engaged them: “You, miss, in the red shirt!  Where are you headed today?”

Some people ignored him, but over and over, people paused, walked to the stand, and talked with the rep.  Some told him about their travel delays.  Others told him about the jobs they were traveling for or the family they were leaving behind.  Several soldiers told him what it’s like to be on leave from duty in the Middle East.  And the marketer listened.  He asked questions and empathized.  He was genuinely present with the people who were talking with him.

After he’d heard some part of their travel story, he’d weave in his offer: “Man, wouldn’t you like to get an extra 10,000 miles so you can get back to see her more often?”  Sure, the rep was trying to get people to apply for a credit card, but he was doing it by connecting with people, by building a relationship, albeit a brief one.  And almost without exception, the people who stopped in front of the display filled out something, whether a credit card application or a Delta mileage program application.

Observing this guy reminded me of a Maya Angelou quote: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  What I saw was the power of listening and genuine, though brief and superficial, connection.

The contrast was clear when he went on break and another pusher took his place.  This hawker didn’t engage people.  He threw out half-hearted, “Sir, don’t you want extra some SkyMiles today?  It’s a great offer!  You can’t pass it up!  Sir, you flyin’ Delta today?  We’re giving away 10,000 SkyMiles free — for nuthin’!”  But the busy passengers did pass it by the table over and over without stopping.   Those who did stop received only the sales pitch, and I’d guess this vendor’s application completion rate was much less than half of the other man’s.

Small sale or large, connection really does pay.  And it doesn’t require a tremendous amount of effort.  It simply requires genuine presence.  Not a bad reminder while waiting in an airport.

How can you apply this insight? Write your website copy or the introduction to an article from your target read’s point of view. When talking with a potential client or referral source, ask questions before you talk about your experience and qualifications. Make it your practice to seek to understand before you seek to be understood.

Ya Gotta Say NO to Grow!

When you think about business development, do you think more of “yes” or “no”?  Most people seem to think “yes.”

  • YES, I’ll attend that networking meeting
  • YES, I’ll write that article or blog post or newsletter
  • YES, I’ll meet with that potential referral source
  • YES, I’ll get another certification or specialists’ certificate
  • YES, I’ll speak at that seminar
  • YES, I’ll serve on that board
  • YES, I’m on Twitter… And Facebook… And LinkedIn… And App.net… And Pinterest… And Google+… And YouTube… And….
  • YES, I can take a call at 9 PM
  • YES, I’d love to meet for breakfast

And so on, until there’s a shift to… Yes, I’m spread too thin.  Yes, I’m feeling stressed.  Yes, things are slipping through the cracks.  YES, I’m burned out. 

“Yes” is undoubtedly a crucial word for business development.  Saying yes to strategic, carefully selected activities creates more opportunities that open the door for results.

But time and energy are finite.  That means you need to choose wisely how and where to spend your time and energy.

Every “yes” is in effect a “no” to one or more other opportunities.  You can’t be in two places at one time, you can’t invest your business development hours on all the activities you might like if you’d also like to have time available for your clients, your professional activities, and your personal life.

Rather than saying “yes” to everything that seems like it might possibly be a good opportunity, pause and critically evaluate the openings that come your way.  Ask yourself these questions:

  • What’s the cost of doing this?  Consider time, money, and political or relationship costs.
  • Does this opportunity move me closer to what I want to accomplish?  A strategic lunch will move you toward your goals.  A “random act of lunch” will feed nothing but your stomach.
  • What’s the potential upside?  What might you get from doing this activity?  Getting business is a significant upside, of course, but don’t overlook other potential such as developing relationships, creating exposure for yourself and your practice, or learning something that will support your practice.  Launching a blog can help you to get business.  It may also lead to referrals, collegial conversations, other writing opportunities, speaking engagements, enhanced insight into issues in your practice area, and even friendship.
  • How valuable is the potential upside?  In the blogging example above, the potential includes not just new business but also increased substantive knowledge, new and enhanced relationships, and a higher professional profile.  That’s rather valuable.
  • What’s the likelihood of realizing that upside?  You may not be able to answer this in detail, especially if the activity you’re considering is new to you, but you should have some qualitative sense of the likelihood of success. If you take up blogging, your deeper knowledge of the subject area is entirely within your control; put in the time, you’ll develop the knowledge.  That means acquiring more substantive expertise has a high likelihood of realization if you’re committed to blogging.  Landing a speaking gig is less certain, simply because it will take time for you to meet the right people through your blog, to develop the requisite perceived expertise, and for the speaking opportunity to exist before you’ll be offered the chance to speak.
  • What must you say no to, if you say yes to this opportunity?  You might give up other business development opportunities, billable time, or sleep.  You might have to give up cash.  This is another way of looking at the cost, but it puts the issue into sharp focus.  If you decide to commit two hours a week to blogging, you will be unable to spend that time in face-to-face meetings.  That may be a deal breaker or no big deal – but you’ll know only if you ask the question.

It’s easy to see positive potential and to overlook the costs.  Doing so may keep you from making strategic choices, however.  Especially if you’re newer to business development, take the time to evaluate before you accept an opportunity.  By necessity, you’ll always give up something.  They key is to make sure you’re saying yes to the right opportunities, no just every one that comes your way.

Sometimes, you’ve gotta say NO so your practice can grow.

What do you say when you ask for business?

A client recently confided that he had never actually asked for business from a potential client.  Surprised (since I knew that his $275,000 book of business hadn’t just happened), I asked what he meant, and he responded that asking for the business means saying something like, “I’d like to handle that for you.”

A flat, bold statement is one way to ask for business, but as my client and I discussed, it’s just one of a wide variety of “asks” that he could make.  Asking for business isn’t a nice way of describing demanding business, and it doesn’t have to be a show-stopper request that sticks out as an “ask.”  Instead, asking can be a gentle statement or question that affirms your interest and ability to help.

I’ve previously written about what to bear in mind when preparing to ask for business – or when you notice that you’re shying away from making a direct request.  As a foundational piece, you must be clear that discussing a potential matter is beneficial for a client (if you ask helpful questions and/or provide useful insights) and that asking for the business is a natural continuation in which you’re offering bring your skill to meet a need that you and the potential client have identified together.

In other words, there is no magic formula, you don’t have to craft a single “right” way to make your request, and you should not feel that you’re trying to put one over on your potential client.  Instead, you should listen to the potential client, ask questions to clarify the situation and your potential client’s goals and concerns, and discuss relevant experience or ideas that you have.  And then you should offer to take the next step.

With the caveat that no two attorneys will likely ask for business in the same way, consider language along these lines: 

  • Would you like me to outline an approach based on our conversation?
  • Based on what we’ve talked about today, would you be interested in moving forward? (Optional: when?)
  • Please let me know if I can help you in any way with this issue.
  • I can help you with [summarize issue]. (Optional: I’d be happy to do that.)

How many ways can you ask for business?  Limitless.  But the only effective way is to engage in productive conversation with a potential client who has a current, unmet need and to offer your assistance in a way that genuinely reflects who you are and how you relate to others.