Thursday, October 4, 2012

5 Steps to Establishing Effective Business Development Routines

“Just Do It,” the Nike slogan implies that is it easy to go out and do anything. Well, as David Ackert told us at the FirmFuture conference, attorneys may need more than a slogan to motivate them to go out and make rain.

Attorneys generally did not go to law school because they wanted to become sales people. In fact, many went to law school because they didn’t want anything to do with sales. However, today’s business environment requires all attorneys to take a more active role in sales and business development. For most lawyers, that means learning new skills and establishing new routines.

The good news is attorneys are really smart and able to learn new skills quickly. See the Interesting Events page for some upcoming training programs. The bad news is attorneys are human too and it is very hard to change human behavior and routines. Just think of all those abandoned New Year’s resolutions.

I often see attorneys attend a networking skills program and walk away full of confidence and motivated to go out to more events. When I see the same attorney a month later and ask how their networking is going, I hear, “I’ve been really busy and haven’t been able to attend any events” or another excuse.

In his book “The Power Of Habits: Why We Do What We Do InLife And Business,” Charles Duhigg outlines how habits are formed and changed through cues, routines and rewards

Attorneys can use these methods to help establish new business development routines. These 5 steps can help get you started.
  1. Assess your current routines. Start by writing down everything you do in a week, or better yet, try a month. Not just your billable time but also current business development activates, firm management tasks, social events, even what newspapers and blogs you read. If you had planned on going to an event or writing a new blog post but didn't, include that too as well as the reason why you didn't do it. After a week or month, analyze your log. You may find you are already doing a number of activities that can easily be converted into business development opportunities or you may see that you aren't doing as much as you thought you were doing. You may also be able to identify patterns or routines. The very act of writing down and analyzing what you do can produce a change in behavior.
  2. Identify 1 realistic goal. Yes, start with just one goal and make it specific, achievable and measurable. For example, if your goal is to expand your referral network, you can measure how many new contacts you make each week. Or if you want to establish credibility and be seen as a thought leader you can measure the number of visitors you have to your blog. While increasing revenue is always the ultimate goal and it can be measured over time, it is too broad and may not show enough results in the short term to keep you motivated.
  3. Map out a plan. Write down how you are going to reach your goal. Yes, you need to write it down and tape it to your wall so you can see it and be reminded. Be specific. How or where are you going to meet new referral sources? What groups are you going to join? What events are you going to attend? Who are you going to ask for introductions? Or what time and day are you going to write blog posts? What topics are you going to cover? Where are you going to turn for sources – other blogs, publications, events?
  4. Review and measure your results. This is especially important when you are trying to establish new routines. Measuring your results provides a sense of accomplishment, a reward for your efforts and can help keep you motivated. 
  5. Use the buddy system. Work with a business development coach, a mentor, a colleague, a friend, a spouse, anyone who will hold you accountable for acting on your plan. Set a monthly meeting or phone call to review your activities and results from the past month and what you will do in the upcoming month.
While the Nike slogan, Just Do It, might be enough of a motivation to make you go out and buy new sneakers it probably isn't enough to make you go to the gym consistently. And it isn't an effective motivational tool to make you go out and do more business development. To successfully establish effective business development habits, you need to form new routines.

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