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Focus on the Do—Not the Dread

In January, I was talking to an always inspiring attorney about his 2019 business development success and his plans for 2020. When I asked him why he felt like 2019 had been so successful, he credited three things: being more intentional in his efforts, creating better habits and getting comfortable being uncomfortable. Since many attorneys find business development uncomfortable, I asked him how he learned to get comfortable being uncomfortable. He said, “I focus on the DO, not the DREAD.” That is a brilliantly simple and widely applicable strategy. In fact, I’ve adopted it as my own personal 2020 mantra.

The analytical, risk-averse, cautious, perfectionist nature of many attorneys often leads them to overemphasize preparation, analysis and research over action. While it’s important to be prepared, conduct research and have a plan, it’s really important to take action. Nothing will ever happen without action. As we’ve written about in the past few weeks, clients and contacts want you to stay connected, express genuine concern and offer assistance where you can. We are all facing unprecedented challenges, and no one has all the answers. We are all building the proverbial plane as it’s flying.

We have had more time at home and are cultivating new work habits and routines. Along with that, make sure to incorporate new business development and client care activities and habits as part of every day to help you stay focused on doing rather than dreading.

  • Contact at least one client, prospect or contact every day to find out how they are doing both personally and professionally, recognizing that “One Size Fits One” and everyone is experiencing this crisis differently.
  • You have probably cleaned out a closet or created new work and school spaces in your home. Consider “Marie Kondo-ing” your contacts as well. Download your LinkedIn and Outlook contacts and review them. You can prioritize your outreach using a simple DRIP analysis to code your contacts. When you’ve identified your “priority” contacts, add a notes column that includes what they care about, topics of interest and their biggest challenges so you can customize your outreach and add value.
    • Decision makers can directly hire you and the firm to perform legal work.
    • Referral sources can provide a referral to use you and the firm.
    • Influencers influence the hiring of you and the firm but may not directly be able to make the hiring decision.
    • Personal are social or personal contacts. Many of the above are also personal contacts.
  • Review the presentations, articles and other content you and/or your team has created and look for ways to repurpose. If you created a special program or CLE for a client, consider what other clients would find value in the topic or reformat for other audiences.
  • Research your clients. Set up Google alerts for each client and prospect and ask your BD team about other available research resources in the firm. Take a deep dive on their websites, listen to quarterly or annual earnings calls and read filings and other reports.
  • Update your bio!
  • Stay positive. This is a difficult time for everyone. Clients rely on the attorneys who are positive and find creative workarounds and alternatives in the face of challenges to help clients advance the goals of the business.
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