A client reminded me this past week, as we’re about to begin another coaching group, that I should emphasize to the lawyers that business development is not a single event but rather an ongoing process. As he put it, the lawyers need to realize that the coaching program is not about hitting home runs, but rather getting singles.

Sara Holtz over at Women Rainmakers bLAWg also reports on some good advice she received from a client along the same vein. She referred to it as “baby steps,” and relates how she started walking to relieve stress, then running and finally working herself up to a half-marathon not having that goal in mind when she started. Goals are a good thing, but a dose of realism when starting out is even better.

I agree with Holtz that “this business development stuff is like the running” or like playing baseball. Both analogies work when it comes to developing legal business. Lawyers should not expect that by starting to jog that they will make the Olympic team in the same year, or go from the minors to the major leagues and win MVP in the next All Star game.

The process of developing business takes a lot of work over time. And we both agree that you start "small with low hanging fruit" such as with existing clients, friends and referral sources. Expectations need to be realistic, and lawyers need to be in it for the long haul.

It’s nice when clients understand that.