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10 Ways to Habitually Market For New Business

Ask the most successful rainmakers what their secret is to their success and most will tell you that they work on it constantly and relentlessly. It has become integral to their client work and practice and they do it every day. Given the pressure lawyers feel to record billable hours, it may seem almost impossible to find time to do business development and even if time allows, it can be difficult to know how to do it effectively. And like a regular exercise routine, many people don't like to do it, but once you form the habit and feel more comfortable, you will enjoy the results! Follow these steps for more focused, effective and consistent business development:
Focus on your goals, then focus on what will make you most successful: qualified leads, proven referral sources, differentiation. Don't try to do everything all at once and don't waste time chasing "suspects" instead of qualified leads.
2. Find things to do that you enjoy and are good at, including ways to connect your personal hobbies and passions with clients and business development. At the same time, be prepared to hone skills in areas in which you are weak and also to go outside your comfort zone.
3. Remember to say no. Not every invitation to speak, go to a conference or join a task force or committee will be valuable or help you achieve your goals. This is especially true for many programs or associations in which over three-quarters of the audience is lawyers you compete with!
Work on your personal style and approach: how you come across to clients and to colleagues, how responsive you are, how collaborative, how assertive and confident, how you describe what you do.
5. Focus first on giving value and making yourself relevant. Get to know someone, ask and listen. Leave the discussion/pitch about the firm and yourself to a later time.
6. Become known in a niche. Write about it, speak about it, get quoted about it and be sure your bio, LinkedIn, and the firm's web site all have the most current and correct information about it.
7. Never take good clients for granted! Treat them with respect and appreciation, provide value, ask how they're doing, show them you care, make them always feel like your most important client.
8. Collaborate. Seek feedback from another partner or external colleague on your business development strategy, your elevator speech, or your ideas. Find a "marketing buddy" to meet with weekly or monthly to review progress, brainstorm opportunities and get advice on obstacles.
9. Prepare, think ahead and stay ahead. Leverage as much as you can. If you give a speech at a conference, send the PowerPoint to clients who couldn't attend, convert it into an article, use the materials to do custom CLEs for clients, convert it into an alert for the firm.
10. Make your business development habitual. Develop and maintain good habits and discipline as you would for an exercise routine:

  • Make a plan and follow it. Each year, develop a few realistic goals and determine the steps you will take to achieve the goals. Review and revise this plan on a quarterly basis. Also develop your target contact list and review this on a monthly basis. Keep your list of BD to-do's and contacts by your phone. Record your time so you can evaluate effectiveness of your efforts.
  • Spend at least 10-15 minutes every day (perhaps at the beginning of each day) to review your BD action plan and contact list. Make progress on at least one action item per day. It could be sending an email to follow-up or schedule lunch or a quick phone call.
  • As a partner, aim to spend at least 200 hours per year on marketing, client and business development. As an associate, spend at least 100 hours. Most very successful rainmakers spend 600 hours/year, just to provide you with a benchmark.
  • Get out of the office at least once a week! Schedule a BD-related meal with a colleague, referral source, prospect or client for the specific purpose of discussing their priorities, trends and business issues. If it helps, schedule lunch on the same day every week.
  • Plan to visit one client every month. You likely will be able to fit other visits and meetings around it.
  • Ask your assistant to help keep your contact list up to date (every time you return with business cards or get a new client) and help you categorize contacts by client, prospect, referral source, association committee peer, personal, etc.
  • Use your calendar as a tickler system to remind you when to follow up with targeted contacts. They should hear from you at least on a quarterly basis.
  • Use the internet to stay connected, e.g., LinkedIn, and easy shopping web sites/tools like Amazon Prime to send clients gifts.
  • Celebrate your successes and those of your colleagues!

Susan Duncan

Susan Duncan works on the business, strategy and management side of the legal profession at RainMaking Oasis and has been doing so since 1980. Along with a high level of energy and enthusiasm, Susan brings deep knowledge of the legal industry and a passion for what she does to her clients and consulting engagements. To learn more, visit:

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Filed Under: Featured StoriesPractice Management

About the Author: Susan Duncan works on the business, strategy and management side of the legal profession at RainMaking Oasis and has been doing so since 1980. Along with a high level of energy and enthusiasm, Susan brings deep knowledge of the legal industry and a passion for what she does to her clients and consulting engagements. To learn more, visit:

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