November 2012 | Prepare Your 2013 Business Development Goals Now
Business Development: Fail to Plan and Plan to Fail
Time constraints, lack of organization, inability to measure value, tailoring for specific career level, difficulty managing expectations – we’ve heard all the reasons why business development plans aren’t factored into an attorney’s routine. But for a lawyer in today’s market, whether in a large firm or one-person show, a business plan is just as necessary as it is for any small business or corporation.
A plan helps you to identify your goals, focus your efforts and “keeps you honest” in terms of following through. We get it –time is money, which is all the more reason to make sure those precious minutes spent on business development are goal-oriented and streamlined. Plus, at the end of the day, or month or year (remember that business development does not happen overnight!), you should be able to measure your results and adapt your plan accordingly.
The creation of your business plan should not be a long process. Keep it simple. When it comes to your legal work, perfection is key; however in marketing and business development, flexibility is more important. Having the perfect plan isn’t the goal; developing new business and cultivating current connections is. Put together a focused, realistic plan and then use that plan to develop business. Bear in mind that this will be a working document that evolves with you throughout the next year.
Every journey begins with a first step. So, take a seat in your favorite thinking chair and ask yourself – what do I want? OK, before you start jotting down your lifelong dreams, let’s focus - what type of legal work do you want to do? Casting the largest net will not catch the most fish. Whether you’re looking to create a higher profile in an industry, or step into unchartered waters, your best bet is to start out with one or two areas where you’d like to focus and then develop a plan for each.
Once you’ve pinpointed what type of work you want to do, here are a few questions to answer:
Gathering these answers is a great start – but it’s only half the battle. Analyzing your responses will help you organize your thoughts. Start by jotting your responses down to identify specific goals and give numeric values if you are having trouble quantifying them. For example: x number of new clients this calendar year or x dollars of new revenue from current clients. Some key guidelines to keep in mind regarding your goal(s):
Now it’s time to roll up your sleeves and dive in to organize your plan. This will be a learning process so you’ll need to decide what works best for you. Will you categorize it by type of contact – external vs. internal, new vs. current? By type of activity – joining organizations vs. social media, speaking vs. writing? Or maybe it’ll be a combination of the two. From there you can fill in the blanks based upon the answers to all of your questions.
Overwhelmed? That’s why calendaring time to work on your business development plan and scheduling tasks to follow up on your activities will be vital to your success. It’s one thing to create it; it’s another to follow through on it. Think of your plan as a habit and part of your daily routine rather than a chore. Calendaring will also afford you the opportunity to measure your success when all is said and done. Look at your deadlines and associated goals and determine whether they were met and if so, if they added to your practice. Analyzing those deadlines that you missed, goals you didn’t reach or activities that you skipped is equally important. This will serve as a tool for developing your next plan – a sort of “dos and don’ts” list.
So whether your plan is half a page or two pages, filled with membership applications or client networking opportunities, it must conform to you – your career level, your goals and your strengths.
Amy M. Galie is a Senior Business Development Specialist for 500-lawyer, 17-office Fox Rothschild LLP.
Amanda M. Steinbach is a Business Development Manager for 550-lawyer, 17-office Fox Rothschild LLP.
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Andrea Malone, White and Williams LLP
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John D. Bowers, Fox Rothschild LLP
Margaret M. DiBianca, Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor, LLP
Nicholas Gaffney, Infinite Public Relations, LLC
Nancy L Gimbol, Eastburn & Gray
Richard W Goldstein, Goldstein Patent Law
Katy M. Goshtasbi, Puris Image
William D Henslee, Florida A&M Univ College of Law
Allison C. Shields, Legal Ease Consulting, Inc.
Gregory H. Siskind, Siskind Susser, P.C.
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