I’m not much of a fisherman but I do understand some of the basics around those who take this sport seriously. They know that you must have the right equipment, learn as much as possible as to where the fish are hanging out, and be patient.

There is a very entertaining article by Sue Bramall that appears in the UK’s The Law Society Gazette. Bramall relates good fly fishing techniques to effective business development.

Her tips include:

  • Not the right time.  Basically, this refers to clients that do not have a need for your services.  Timing just isn’t right, and thus is similar to a fisherman trying to catch fish when they’re not feeding;
  • Nor the right place. Obviously if the fish are not where you are fishing, you will not be very successful. Nor would you be effective in marketing, if your clients don’t hang out where you spend your business development dollars and efforts;
  • The right lure. Fisherman use different lures for different fish.  Clients too respond to different marketing activities.  A shotgun approach is more likely to work for plaintiffs’ attorneys, where a more focused rifle shot would not.  Know your marketplace;
  • Planning ahead.  By paying attention to activities by location, season, etc., you can better estimate where the fish will be and possibly in a feeding frenzy.  So too when it comes to specific legislative activity, or high profile cases, or changes in public policy.  Anticipating and preparing in advance can put you in a better position to provide the needed advice when things start happening;
  • Fly on the water. Like having the right fly on the water to snare fish, it is important for lawyers to have the right marketing tools ready and to USE them.  Doesn’t help to know what needs to be done, but continue to sit behind your desk when you should be out and about;
  • Respond to opportunities quickly.  Fishermen know that when there is a tug on the line, they need to react quickly.  No different when your firm receives an inquiry about its services;
  • Be patient. Patience is synonymous with fishing, which was not one of my assets in my youth.  A pal and I after a night of “partying” would often go fishing at the Cape Cod Canal after midnight.  We would give it 15 minutes and if we didn’t get a bite, we’d pack it in.  If you make a presentation at a conference, and then you don’t get immediate work out of it, do you no longer seek speaking opportunities?    Patience is truly a virtue we can learn from fisherman;
  • Don’t give up. Developing business is part of the profession.  More today than ever.  If something doesn’t work (and you’ve given it the old college try), then try something else.  Try to enjoy the moment.

Like good fisherman and rainmakers, both of whom love the sport of it, keep at it.

P.S. Thanks to my LegalBizDev colleague, Gary Richards, for putting me on to Bramall’s article.