It’s a challenging time for everyone in terms of generating new business.
Some clients are reluctant to engage with outside counsel and certain matters have been put on hold with the world being in such flux.
If you are a senior associate or junior partner who has lost momentum on building your book of business and/or brand due to the pandemic or you’re just starting to think about doing so, I have a few ideas for things you can do now to lay the groundwork to put yourself in a strong position in the future when it comes to lead generation.
Here are some ideas for how senior associates and junior partners can bring in business and build their brands:
- Develop a business development strategy. This is an important first step. A strategy based on a vision of the various components that you believe will lead to success and the individuals that will be “buyers” or connectors to “buyers” is essential. Without a clear strategy, and that includes an industry focus for most practice areas, your efforts will be scattered and inefficient. Start small and list out actionable goals and the steps you’ll need to take to accomplish them.
- Find internal and external champions. Having advocates and wise counsel of whom you can ask advice is very important for your career development. You can learn a lot from those who have walked in your shoes. Ask a trusted mentor or senior partner to recount what worked for them in marketing and rely on them as a sounding board.
- Use LinkedIn to develop relationships. LinkedIn is the most important social media network for professionals. Especially now. Use it often, and use it wisely. Reconnect with individuals with whom you haven’t spoken such as former colleagues from law school and former firms. Be active on LinkedIn by sharing posts and reacting to the posts of others in your network.
- Check in with individuals in your network. Right now, nothing is business as usual. The personal touch of reaching out to someone and asking them how they are doing will go a long way in terms of bolstering relationships. Your clients have a lot of choices when it comes to outside counsel. They often choose their lawyers based on likability, responsiveness and skills. The best thing you can do right now is to show your clients how much you care about them.
- Every interaction with a client or prospect is an opportunity to impress and build trust. Remember that you are always being evaluated so put your best foot forward, intently listen and think carefully about what you say and do.
- Set up an informal referral network. Choose a key group of contacts where there is mutual benefit. You can get together virtually, brainstorm ideas and share information about your practices. This is especially effective if you are a specialist in a certain area or if you work at a niche firm.
- Ask for help inside or outside of your firm to develop a cohesive plan based on the realities of the existing legal marketplace. Think about the various ways that business development will assist you to achieve your personal goals: income, impact, ideal way of practicing, independence, invulnerability, indulgence, etc. Keep whichever of these elements are important to you top of mind, they are your motivators and why you do this work.
- Offer to write client alerts and blog posts. One of the most effective ways to build your brand and become known as a subject matter expert is to become a published author. Offer to help out a busy partner on an alert and raise your hand to write for a firm blog. This will also help your search engine results, as content that is educational will move you up on Google and other major search platforms.
- Make the time for business development. In order to truly be successful at business development you must make time for it. It’s an investment in yourself. You will see great results if you commit to what you say you will do each month. Today, most established lawyers have to do some sort of business development and marketing in order to stay top of mind with their current clients, referrals and prospects. This is especially the case if you are trying to build your own client base and step outside the shadow of the senior lawyers with whom you work. Business development is an investment in your future. And it doesn’t have to take up a lot of your time. Effective business development efforts can be done in just five to ten minutes each day when you are organized.
- Create a strong biography and LinkedIn summary. Ensure that your profile is optimized and reflects what you currently do. Use keywords to describe what you do to enhance your search results. Look to competitors and peers for content inspiration.
- Get involved in a bar association, industry committee, alumni network or pro bono group. Raising your hand for a volunteer role will enable you to meet other people in the industry and acquire leadership skills, all of which are important along your professional journey.
Finally, there is no one way of successfully becoming a rainmaker, only your way. It’s never too early to start thinking about building your network, brand and business. You don’t have to sell, ask, schmooze, push, pressure anyone ever. I don’t believe in the elevator pitch. You DO need to develop relationships and be likable, and that can happen in many ways that fits your style, comfort zone, personality, values or goals. Remember that anyone who you meet can be a potential client, referral source or future employee/employer.