Business Development Tips for Legal Professionals
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Business Development Tips for Legal Professionals

Business Development Tips for Legal Professionals

Being a good lawyer isn’t just about your ability to practice law – it’s about how good you are at selling yourself, your expertise, and your firm.

To do this well takes time, persistence and practice, but it can be difficult to muster enthusiasm for this when you’re busy trying to become a good lawyer.

However, business development is key to unlocking your full potential as a lawyer and advancing your firm’s standing. The 21st century has seen a surge in legal firms, with fierce competition for new business, so to stay ahead of the competition you must learn to sell your wares successfully.

If you ask any lawyer why they don’t invest more time in business development you are likely to get a multitude of answers. However, the majority of these run along one theme; lack of confidence.

The following tips will help you build your confidence and set you on the path to business development success.

Select the Right Business Development Pathway

There are many different options for business development, and by choosing a pathway that best fits your nature you offer yourself the greatest chance of success.

Business development can be broken down into four general themes:

• Formal Networking – conferences, networking events, business occasions and so on. This type of business development is ideal for lawyers who prefer the structure of formal events. Socialising with other lawyers within a business setting can be easier than outside of the office as protocols are expected and boundaries are in place. You know what is expected of you.
• Informal Networking – organising a social event, attending fundraisers, joining sporting activities or groups. This type of networking is perfect for those who have external hobbies that they can then tie in with work. For instance, organising a charity cricket match with another local firm is a great way to connect with other lawyers and involve the wider community.
• Public Speaking – at your firm’s events, local groups, or industry events is a great way to become more ‘visible’. If you are confident in your ability to speak at events outside of your industry this is even better as you can mix business with your other hobbies and interests.
• Writing – for your firm’s website, blog, or newsletter is a great way to communicate with others in your firm. It can be even more beneficial if you write for trade publications and local press as this is good advertising for you and your firm.

All of the above factors will take time to pursue and even longer to reap the rewards. Select the path that best suits your abilities and preferences, and with which you are most confident. If you have an enjoyment in something this shows as enthusiasm and will naturally encourage others to you.

Learn Business Development from Others

If there is someone who you particularly admire for their business development acumen, then use them as a mentor and teacher. This can be done either from a distance (watching people speak in public) or close proximity (asking someone to mentor you for a period of time).

The more you learn and observe, the more your confidence will grow. You might want to select some specific training if desired or discuss options with colleagues for support and advice.

Distance, or external, support can take the form of training courses, YouTube videos, online training, and so on. Even small tips can be beneficial to raising your ability and your confidence.

Close proximity, or internal, support can range from mentoring to one-off support. If there is someone within your firm who is a good public speaker, watch what they do and ask for advice. If they are a good networker, go out with them to business events and social gatherings. If they write well, read what they write and try to emulate their style.
Set yourself achievable goals – know what you want and how you plan to complete your objectives in stages so that you can see the rewards for your hard work.

Practice Makes Perfect

Most people are familiar with the theory that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become a master in your chosen field. Unfortunately, we don’t all have this long to become experts, however, we can swing the odds in our favour.
Practicing skills that you want to master is the fastest way to become competent and confident. If you have chosen the business development path you wish to follow, and you’ve put in some training time, then all that’s left for you to do is practice your new skill. The more frequently you practice the more proficient you will become.

Commit to Business Development

Setting targets for yourself, and ensuring you stick to them, is the best way to maintain a high level of commitment to your personal business development. Regular, consistent use of your skill is preferable to intermittent usage, as this will boost your confidence through repetition and practice.

Set yourself an achievable target that you are confident will fit alongside your existing workload, and work on maintaining this for an extended period of time. For example, if you are a speaker, you might want to aim to speak at four events each year, one local community event, one industry event, and two internal seminars. If you are a writer you might aim to write one blog for the firm’s website each month, one piece for the local newspaper every three months, and publish one trade article each year.

Of course, you are in control of setting your own guidelines so ensure they fit with your other responsibilities, and are achievable for you.

If you aren’t willing to commit to even a small, frequent objective you are less likely to succeed or achieve the results you require. The more effort you put in, the greater the rewards.