The summer is a great time to reconnect with contacts and focus on your business development and branding efforts. Instead of taking a break from doing business development and marketing activities while the sun is shining, smartly use this time to focus on those marketing activities you always wish that you had more time to do. This is great way to get an advantage over your competitors who may be lounging poolside for the summer. Here are some ideas on how you can incorporate in-person networking and online networking to help you build your brand and your book of business.

  1. Create a personal business development and marketing plan. There are many templates for this, but it should essentially cover your goals, action steps to achieve your goals, support needed from your firm to achieve them, ways to raise your profile internally and externally (speaking engagements, article writing, volunteer work, etc.) and a list of contacts with the best potential.
  2. Make it a weekly practice to connect with VIP contacts – mentors, former professors, former colleagues – anyone who you think can be a valuable connection. Continue to invest in those relationships. Make a list of individuals with whom you’ve lost touch and reach out to them.
  3. Volunteer on a bar association committee, for a social cause or a pro bono project. This will enable you to meet new people who may be a good referral or business source.
  4. Consider teaching CLE seminars or a course. Adjunct professor work is a great way to build your brand and build valuable connections.
  5. Go to alumni events and get involved with your alumni associations. Here’s an article on how you can build your own alumni network: Why It’s Important to Cultivate Your Alumni Network (and How to Strengthen Yours).
  6. Find ways to help your contacts. This is key for follow up and relationship building.
  7. Every day, like and/or share others’ posts in your industry and at your firm on LinkedIn. Strategically congratulate successes of others.
  8. Focus on enhancing and updating your bio and LinkedIn profile. One of the very first things that someone does when they want to find out more information about a lawyer is to Google them. And their web site bio is usually the first search result that appears, with their LinkedIn profile in second place. Your bio and LinkedIn profile are your opportunity to showcase your work, capabilities and areas of expertise, and what makes you stand out from your competitors, so spend the time to craft a bio and LinkedIn profile that truly conveys your value proposition. For more on how to do this, read my JD Supra articles, “How to Write an Engaging, Client-Focused Professional Bio” “Show vs. Tell – How to Create A Strong Lawyer Bio” and “LinkedIn 101: How to Master Profile Basics & Build Your Professional Brand.”
  9. Make a list of clients/referrals/former contacts who you have not seen in person in some time and make plans to visit them. Offer to tour the facilities of certain clients to better understand the operations of their business. There is nothing more powerful than in-person interactions and showing that you want to know more about their business.
  10. Get to know your top clients better. Make a list of 5-10 top clients/new clients. Conduct due diligence and ask them questions about their business so you can become a better advisor to them. Outside counsel want lawyers who anticipate issues, truly understand their business and make them look good. Show how much you really care.
  11. The summer is the perfect midway point to reevaluate your business’ goals for the year. Reflect on what went really well this year and what did not. Make a plan to change what needs to be adjusted and refined now so you end the year on a positive note.
  12. Get to know your top clients better. Make a list of 5-10 top clients/new clients. Conduct due diligence and ask them questions about their business so you can become a better advisor to them. Outside counsel want lawyers who anticipate issues, truly understand their business and make them look good. Show how much you really care.
  13. LinkedIn is the most important social media channel for business development. Every day, like and/or share others’ posts in your industry and at your firm on LinkedIn. Strategically congratulate successes of others.
  14. Update your LinkedIn profile – ensure your publications and awards are updated. Here are two articles to help you become a LinkedIn master: Build a Stronger Professional Network Today with These LinkedIn To-Do’s and LinkedIn 101: How to Master Profile Basics & Build Your Professional Brand.
  15. Make a connections plan for LinkedIn and connect with the people you meet in person who you consider worthwhile to extend the relationship online. Ensure their contact info is in your CRM database so they receive your client alerts and evites.
  16. Develop a social media strategy aligned to your business development goals. The individuals with the strongest personal brands are those who share content that is helpful and value added. They are purposeful about everything they share and control the narrative. They also dedicate some of their posts to be gracious to others. In addition, they post content on social media at the right time of day – during am and pm commuting hours when you have a captive audience.
  17. Reconnect with former clients. If you haven’t worked with a client in the past six months or a year, this is a great opportunity to touch base with them again. Reach out to them to ask them for lunch or send them an article you think they might find of value. Staying top of mind is key here.
  18. Google yourself. I am a true believer in the positive power of social media, but as the lines between our personal and personal lives become blurrier by the day in the digital world in which we live, you must take the appropriate steps to protect your brand after all this work that you’re putting into strengthening it. For more on this topic, see my article, “Why You Must Google Yourself Regularly and Protect Your Online Personal Brand.” For more on this topic, see my article, “Why You Must Google Yourself Regularly and Protect Your Online Personal Brand.”
  19. Write a client alert, a blog post, an article or all of these! Creating value-added content is a great way to provide value to your network and stay top of mind with them. It also greatly helps with your positive SEO results.
  20. Never eat alone. This is the title of one of my favorite business books – the networking bible by Keith Ferrazzi. Essentially the book is about how to maximize your relationships and make each meal productive – go for drinks/lunch and dinner with clients, prospects and referral sources. Everyone has to eat – make that time strategic about with whom you spend it. While I am a big believer in the power of online networking, it is still incredibly important to cement relationships with in-person contact. Use the slower time to take at least five contacts or clients out and spend some quality time together. Also, many people are more receptive to invitations during the summer when they may be a bit less busy and stressed, so you may have better luck scoring an in-person meeting with someone on your target list during this time.
  21. Plan for the fall now. Once September rolls around you will have a lot of events and travel. Think about what you want to accomplish from now until the fall and into Q1 – this is a very busy time that is full of social and business networking opportunities. Work with your marketing team to create a concrete plan with goals and action items.

Summer is a great time for business development but it takes focus and commitment – think of it as an investment in yourself. Try out these tips and let me know how they go!