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I believe many—if not most—lawyers choose to attend law school in part because they hate the idea of having to sell something. They go to law school to learn about the complex system of laws and rules and the subtleties of the practice of law. The thought of selling yourself, your practice group or your law firm at a business convention or cocktail party seems like a non-starter.
My advice to those lawyers who recoil at the idea of business development is to not look at obtaining new clients as “selling” themselves at all. Instead, look at it as forming relationships and getting to know people. Ask questions about people’s goals for their businesses, the challenges to those goals and what they like and dislike about working with outside professionals. Those conversations create understanding and build relationships, which turn into future business.
I believe most lawyers are naturally curious people, so teaching them to ask current and prospective clients questions about their businesses is a comfortable exercise for many of them. Once lawyers can build those relationships, they naturally grow new business without “the sell” that so many people dread.
So what do you remind the lawyer who hates business development? Don’t worry about selling yourself. Instead, ask the client engaging questions, allow the relationship to develop and watch the new business follow as a result of those conversations.