Do it now—while the phones are quiet and your colleagues are off nursing their post-holiday blues. Lean back, put your feet up, stare into the distance and make a few—emphasis on few—plans for the coming year. Focus on the strictly pertinent. If business development has long been your bugbear, the start of the year is the perfect time to tackle some basics and get set for the coming months. Take time now to do it well, as Elizabeth Butcher advises, and this time next year you’ll be dancing with that ol’ bugbear!
Six Business Development Building Blocks
Your biography. If you have not reviewed your biography in a while, this is a great time to give it an update. Add any recognition you have received and any appointments, like chair of a bar or industry trade organization committee. If you have added a new area of expertise to your practice or there are new buzzwords that describe your current practice that will help with search engine optimization (SEO), include them. Don’t make visitors wonder what you do, tell them! Most importantly, once you have made these changes, schedule a recurring time on your 2012 calendar to review and refresh your biography frequently throughout the year.
Your experience. What did you do for your clients in 2011? Update your deal lists or representative matters with new client successes. There is no better way to showcase what you do than by putting it into words! Make sure your descriptions are in a format that’s ready to use in pitches and that your experience is posted on your firm’s website, making it easy to share.
Your contacts. Another year has passed during which you attended networking programs and conferences, obtained new clients and made a good connection with a reporter (and got quoted!). Have you added these people to your contact list? If people in your current contact list have changed jobs, you need to update their information, too. Now is the time to review and update your contact list so it is ready for use in the upcoming months.
Your involvement. What do you want to be involved in this year? Perhaps there is a committee in your state bar you have always wanted to participate in, or maybe you are on a committee for a local trade organization and you want to work your way up to become president. Start planning now for how much you want to be involved and set aside the time on your calendar to dedicate to these efforts. For example, if your state bar’s young lawyers committee meets the third Thursday of every month at lunchtime, then make the commitments now and mark that calendar!
Your virtual real estate. Are your LinkedIn and Facebook profiles up-to-date? Do you belong to groups that help build your virtual network? Do you belong to too many groups? Maybe you don’t have the time to manage all your virtual profiles well and should consider paring down. It’s also time to think about the blog you publish. Is the time you are spending producing the results you anticipated? How might you tweak it to improve results? Whatever the scenario, set up your virtual presence so that it is easy to manage throughout the year.
Your targets. Clients or prospects, make a list of who you want to keep as the focus of your marketing initiatives in the year ahead. Perhaps you have a client you want to introduce to other lawyers in your firm. Or perhaps you want to visit certain clients more often than you did this past year. Maybe your firm’s employment practice sends out monthly advisories and you’ve always wanted to send them to a client with a personal note. These are items you can jot down now and keep in front of you as a reminder for the entire year. Maybe you didn’t have any real client prospects in 2011, or you have had the same ones on your list for years but haven’t reached out to them. Make 2012 the year!
So there you have it. If you spend time on each of these items, you will be able to follow up with those prospects by sending them a LinkedIn request, or a link to your updated bio with your recent deals or representative matters. Whatever the case, once your basics are covered, moving on to execute more strategic initiatives will be easier for you in the year ahead.
Elizabeth A. Butcher is Director of Client Development for Wilmer Hale.
Illustration © ImageZoo.