BD meets CLE

Simone Hughes
Make it Count

Rapid continuous learning is a fact of our lives. Embrace it and create long-term, lasting relationships.

Just when you think you have finally finished your schooling, you quickly realize you hardly know anything at all. Learning is a constant imperative of today’s reality.

Those of you who cringe at change, new rules, new roles, new technology — even your phone’s recent upgrade — have to begin to embrace it all. Or else, you will become extinct, even quicker than in the past.

But the good news is there is a silver lining. Any educational seminar, conference, speaking opportunity, mentoring, or coaching you lead have the potential to create strong relationships and increase the probability of business development.

Relationships are the foundation of business acquisition, retention, and growth. Get good at estimating and acting on “relationship potential.”

A poor relationship will decrease the probability of repeat business. A strong relationship will increase the probability of repeat business directly, or through referrals from other strong relationships.

When marketers strategically plan to forge long-term, mutually profitable relationships, we look at the science of predicting and estimating “relationship potential.”

You may never have thought specifically in these “jargon-y” terms (good) marketers know, but I bet you do this naturally! In fact, I have worked in different industries with different professional services people and found lawyers are the most natural at applying this complex concept. What you have to do is now consciously use it for business development every day.

It may sound calculating to try to assess your relationships and categorize them in terms of those that will bring you no business, some business, or lots of business. Well, it is. And you should be doing it. Not to then decide not to waste your time with them any more, but to make better decisions on what to talk about and for how long.

For example, if you have assessed one of your contacts as not being a good source of business, then you have helped yourself spend your time more effectively talking to them about something else — and when you’re “on the clock” — to limit your time. It doesn’t mean you ever have to be rude to anyone.

Marketers spend a lot of time helping you create and sustain relationships. A huge part of that work is developing a high potential, but currently weak relationship, into a stronger one. Deciding on what the most efficient and effective business development and relationship-building tools to use are critical decisions for success.

Other industries have even been able to throw a whole lot of math at this concept and push it from an art to a science. I will simply skip the math, and relate the learning!

Educational seminars are one of the most successful business development tools.

Giving custom, educational seminars to clients and prospects with high potential business to give you is one of the best ways to get relevant business faster.

Why? You know that buyers of legal services need to know:

1) whether you’re qualified to do the work;
2) have previous and relevant experience; and
3) if they want to work with you personally.

Giving your time and helping your contacts with their own continuous learning lets them see you as a generous, relevant professional who they might want to work with. They see your technical side and your soft, personal side and these are the top two things they need to know to give you work.

Research has demonstrated you have a higher probability of getting good work by using this tool of business development. A good seminar puts you immediately on someone’s short list and you can be sure the next time they need something in your area, you will be top of mind to them.

Choosing business development tools wisely.

Just to clarify, I am not advocating you should only be giving seminars to develop business. You need to use a combination of things to achieve your desired result. I am strongly suggesting you rank the things you can do in order of which you think may have the highest probability of forging strong, profitable relationships to the least. This provides for more effective use of your time and money. And puts you over your competition who can’t be bothered to learn anything new anymore!

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