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Work With Your Strengths

For Business Development, Do What Comes Naturally

By Toni Wells

It is no secret that business development is a necessary component of the business of law. Whether a solo practitioner or a member of a large firm, you have a level of responsibility for maintaining a pipeline of new business. Unfortunately, there is no template or set of instructions that works for every lawyer. I have seen a lot of tactics executed with varying degrees of success. What seems to work best is engaging in an activity that is natural to you.

What Do I Mean by “Natural”?

It’s simply engaging in something you enjoy instead of jumping on the latest trendy activity because that’s what everyone is doing. Starting from scratch? Here are a few tips to get you started on aligning your business development activity with your interests.

1. Zero In On Your Personal Strengths

Explore the things that you’ve always been told you’re good at. Make a list. And if you’d like more definitive answers, take a personality assessment. You can identify your strong suits with the free Values in Action Survey of Character Strengths. Developed by psychologists, it takes roughly 15 minutes to complete, then provides a partial list of your strongest qualities. You can get the complete list for a small fee. Additionally, there are comprehensive, psychology-based assessments such as the Everything DiSC and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). All of these can help you identify your strongest preferences and tendencies.

2. Connect to Activities That Complement Your Strengths and Natural Inclinations

This might be the challenging part, but with a little thought and creativity, you can start connecting the dots. For example:

If your traits/strength(s) are …

  • Collaboration
  • Teamwork
  • Inclusiveness

Consider …

  • Associations
  • Memberships

If your traits/strength(s) are …

  • Analytical
  • Thoughtful
  • Conscientious

Consider …

  • Article writing
  • Thought pieces

If your traits/strength(s) are …

  • Enthusiastic
  • Lively
  • Outgoing

Consider …

  • Networking events
  • Social events

3. Select Activities Carefully

It is easy to overcommit, especially when you are doing something you enjoy. If you haven’t yet committed yourself to a meaningful business development activity, start slowly. For instance:

  • Attend association meetings and participate in their activities before committing to a leadership position.
  • Try to write an article every quarter rather than trying to write a book right away.

You get it: wade in the water rather than diving into the deep end.

Yes, I am sure you have heard this all before, but know this: Until you figure out the tactics that are most comfortable for you, business development will continue to be a chore. And not only will you know it, but the clients you are trying to win will feel it. You owe it to yourself — and the people you are trying to target — to figure out what you enjoy and how to incorporate that into the business development strategy.

Illustration ©

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Categories: Business Development, Daily Dispatch, Law Firm Associates, Networking for Lawyers
Originally published February 13, 2018
Last updated April 18, 2018
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Toni Wells Toni Wells

Toni Wells is principal at Bespoke Marketing Partners, where she focuses on business development and client relationship management in the legal services industry, working with individual lawyers and practice groups to develop and execute business development plans. Toni has served in business development leadership positions at three AmLaw 100 law firms. She has a Masters in Marketing from Johns Hopkins University. Follow Toni on LinkedIn.

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