Making Rain: Business strategies for in 2015

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MakingRain.jpgThe beginning of a new year always seems like a good time to look at what’s working and what’s not in terms of your business development strategies. There are many resources available on this topic that include how to organize your time and efforts, and how to do a better job of staying motivated and on task. All of these can be helpful, but getting focused is sometimes the biggest challenge. Here’s a list of things to critically evaluate in 2015. Of course there are many others that will likely come to mind as you read these, so make your list and get going for a fantastic 2015!

“To do” list

Your bio: Is your bio up-to-date? Does it talk about what problems you solve for your clients or does it read more like a CV? If it is up-to-date and you feel confident that a reader will know what you do and how you can help, that’s great. Next question: Is the same information available on LinkedIn or other social media sites? Have you checked with a few clients to see if the words you use to describe what you do are words they would use to find someone like you online?

Your clients: Have you looked at your client list to see where you might be able to expand the work you do with them? Have you had a conversation with your key clients lately to find out what they have planned for 2015? What are they hoping to accomplish? Anything you can do to help? What about your referral sources? What do they have planned for 2015?

Your time: How efficient are you? One of the best exercises a former mentor asked me to do at one point in my career was to keep a log of what I did for a couple weeks. Sounded awful! But in the end he went over it with me and pointed out that many of the things consuming my time were things other people could have done for me. I needed to delegate and move on to things that I needed to do myself.

Training: Is there something that you’ve always wanted to learn more about to make you better at what you do? Maybe you’ve told yourself you need to better understand an industry where you feel there is great potential for your type of law. Or maybe you need to learn more about how to use your firm’s software to evaluate your effectiveness in the work you are doing. Perhaps you’d like to hire a coach to give you some advice on how to do a better job with your business development. Starting out the year with a goal of expanding your knowledge base will give you something to look forward to and improve your performance.

“Don’t do” list

Waste time: What clients or people are sapping your time with not much return? Many times these are people you really enjoy spending time with, but you get no work or limited work from them. Let them go! You don’t need to stop talking to them entirely, but manage the time you give them. You want to be spending your time on the high-value/high-reward work, not with someone who never sends much work your way. Take a look at your client and prospect list and better manage the people who are taking too much of your time.

Be something you’re not: What you do for business development has to be comfortable for you. So if you have been trying to get a speaking engagement, but you really dread speaking, this is probably why you have not been overly successful. Take a look at what you have been doing and what has not been working. Stop doing those things and replace them with other activities that you either know you enjoy or might enjoy if you try them.

Attend useless events: Evaluate sponsored events or other business events for their value in terms of others who will be in attendance or the knowledge or insight you will gain by attending. Not all events are created equal. It doesn’t make sense for you to waste your time at an event where the majority of the audience will not be referral sources, current clients or prospects.

Talk too much: Being a good listener and good at asking questions is a much better way to get new business than talking all about yourself and your firm. If you ask questions and really listen, you can interject how you can help by giving some examples from your experience. Ask a prospect, “What is going to be your biggest challenge in 2015?” They are going to tell you something. Then use that to tell a story in a few sentences about another client you may have helped with a similar issue. Be prepared to ask another question to get more details about the situation. Keep them talking to see how you might be able to help.

Hopefully, this list has made you think of what you would like to accomplish for yourself and your business development in 2015. Good luck. I think it is going to be a great year!•


Dona Stohler of S2 Law Firm Strategies provides consulting services on business development and marketing for law firms. Stohler has more than a decade of experience in the legal services industry and is the past chair of the U.S. Law Firm Group marketing committee. She can be reached at [email protected] or through The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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