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May 29, 2024 Modern Law Library

How to strike up conversations that build your book of business

By Lee Rawles

Networking is something that comes naturally to some people. But if the idea of talking to strangers makes you break out into a cold sweat, there's help and hope, says Deb Feder, author of the book After Hello: How to Build a Book of Business, One Conversation at a Time.

“You have picked a profession that is never finished meeting people,” Feder writes of lawyers.

A practicing lawyer for many years, Feder now works as a business development coach.

In this episode of The Modern Law Library podcast, Feder explains to the ABA Journal’s Lee Rawles that her goal is to help attorneys have “curious, confident conversations.” They discuss conversation stoppers versus conversation starters, how not to panic when targeting the “cool client,” and how young attorneys can get past “the kids table.”

Lining up a roster of ideal clients doesn’t start at cocktail party mingling, Feder warns. A key to building relationships with the clients you actually want to work with lies in identifying what legal work you’re looking to do, and that requires some inner work. It also involves owning your value, Feder says, and she shares a story about how a partner in her law firm impressed that lesson on her when she was a young attorney.

In After Hello, she says she meets people who feel too overwhelmed by keeping up with their legal work and personal lives to contemplate business development.

“How do you balance the chaos of the day and allow technology to be the support and solution, rather than part of the challenge; how do you let it serve, not destroy you?” Feder asks.

She lays out strategies to organize and cope, including how to stop letting your email inbox overwhelm you.

Feder and Rawles also discuss After Hello’s “30 Conversations in 30 Days Challenge” and the most common mistakes Feder sees lawyers making on LinkedIn.

In This Podcast

Deb Feder

Deb Feder, the CEO of Feder Development, is a business growth coach and a strategist focused on helping lawyers and leaders build outstanding careers. Feder’s approach focuses on turning conversations and connections into opportunities while managing the demands of modern careers. Before founding Feder Development, Feder practiced corporate law for 15 years. Feder completed her coach training and certification through New Ventures West and completed the training in the Daring Way, based on the research of Brené Brown. She is the author of After Hello: How to Build a Book of Business, One Conversation at a Time. During summer 2024, she is hosting a Summer Business Development Boost program, with registration at DebFeder.com/summerboost.