Some of my colleagues around the country have provided some truly succinct tips to get you off to a good start with your business development efforts in 2011. You can read them at attorneyatwork.com. Here are a few I particularly like:

  • Communicate with handwritten notes. As Gerry Riskin says, “a handwritten snail-mailed ‘thank you’ note is golden”; and Roberta Montafia reminds us that it is “a lost art, yet everyone appreciates receiving one.” Further, since they are rarely used today (with the damned e-mail epidemic) you will surely stand out from the crowd;
  • Keep in touch with clients and other contacts all the time. Telephone instead of e-mailing whenever possible. Jim Durham, CMO at McGuire Woods suggests that you “call the next five people you would otherwise contact by e-mail.” I often suggest that lawyers develop a “Quarterly Contact List” and review it every month for names of people to contact that given month. Burkey Belser of Greenfield/Belser, recommends touching clients every month of the year in some manner (e-mail, telephone, etc.), and Bob Denney suggests using a tickler file to remind you to follow up with your contacts;
  • Don’t send the wrong message in response to the question about “how are you doing?” Ross Fishman warns against responding “up to my eyeballs” or as I’ve heard lawyers say “busy as hell.” WRONG message. Rather say “never too busy to help a good client.” Otherwise, as Ross cautions the recipient of the message may make a “mental note not to burden the lawyer with new business or referrals”; and
  • (One of my long time favorites) Seek client feedback about the relationship. Mark Greene, CBDO at Waller Lansden, advises “Go talk to the clients….This is not a sales call, it’s a relationship-building discussion. Talk little, Listen much.”

Some sound business development advice for the new year, I’d say.

  • Matthew N

    Fantastic post! I came looking for Real Estate but all the points above absoutely nail my field as well!

  • I absolutely agree with the article! Having a business deal via e-mail takes a particular time and effort to say what is needed. Having a deal over the phone takes a big advantage because the trust and nobility you can get. I got all the points and I really give a thumbs up with this article. Very well said. Cheers!