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As we discussed in a recent post, the significant benefits that come from working with a business development coach include a personalized business development plan, accountability and access to fresh ideas. Identifying the right coach for your particular situation is the first, and often the most important, step in working with a coach. Take a look at these tips for picking a coach and knowing what to expect from the relationship.
Selecting the Right Coach
There are many excellent coaches working with professionals today. Ask yourself these questions before you begin.
- What do I want to achieve by working with a coach? Some lawyers start with a broad, non-specific goal or set of goals, i.e. “to generate more work.” Others set numeric goals, i.e. “bring in two new clients this year,” or look for help with specific tactics, i.e. “to convert some of my friends into clients without ruining the friendship.” Good coaches are particularly adept at helping lawyers uncover, clarify and prioritize goals into a doable, effective action plan.
- What attributes do I seek in a coach? Honesty and candor top my list. Other potential qualities you might prioritize include organization, being respectful of time and the ability to offer new ideas and fresh approaches. Think through your list ahead of time.
- What questions should I ask a prospective coach? My recommendation is to ask open-ended, “scenario” questions. Examples: “I am working with a client who ‘belongs’ to another lawyer who doesn’t want me involved. What would you advise?” or “What words would your coaching clients use to describe your coaching style?”
- How long should I work with a coach? The answer, of course, depends on each situation, and experience suggests that even a single coaching session can be helpful for a specific situation. Designing and launching a targeted plan, however, might require from 6-8 sessions. The development of a sustainable set of business development habits often takes hold after 10-12 sessions. Some professionals work with a coach over the course of many years, adapting plans and activities to meet emerging practice and marketing opportunities.
What to Expect
All sessions are unique by design, and all coaches bring a personal approach to their sessions. Coaching sessions should be confidential with no information shared without express authorization.
- What will the first session be like? During the first sessions, focus on an in-depth review of your practice and business development successes. Agree on what works for you.
- What about subsequent sessions? Future sessions work best when they follow a simple agenda or framework. That might include: a review of past and current activities, identification of additional information and/or changes in situation, exploration of various responses and agreement on next steps.
- What are coaches responsible for? Your coach should be responsible for scheduling each session, sending a reminder at least one day in advance of the session, providing a prep form for you to complete beforehand, drafting and distributing notes from the call and identifying the agreed follow-up actions.
As you build your relationship with your business development coach, assess the success periodically. It is important to measure effort (both objectively and subjectively) as well as direct results (billable work, new contacts). With the right relationship in place, you will be able to identify those successes and see the valuable benefits.
To learn more about individual business development coaching, contact Kevin McMurdo at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206.849.5358.