- 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.
- 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 your clients.
- 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, something surprising will happen. 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.