Business Development: Be Strategic

The Legal Marketing Association – Bay Area Chapter recently presented, “Putting Business Development to Work for You and Your Firm.” The seminar, exploring the broad topic of business development, featured: David Adams, founder and principal of Revenue Wise; Kelly Brown, client relations director at Morrison & Foerster; and Jann Dudley, marketing director for Archer Norris.  Jill Stolarik, business development manager at Morrison & Foerster, moderated the panel.

As business development tends to be somewhat of a catch-all, panelists offered specific examples from their respective organizations. Brown noted that Morrison & Foerster is a strong believer in doing extensive research to fully understand its market, current clients and prospective clients. This sort of information, she noted, is a strategic tool that arms attorneys – sometimes before a meeting even occurs.

Adams, who serves as an executive coach for firms, stressed the importance and effectiveness of one-on-one, immersive training sessions. He noted that, “You don’t go from spending a weekend in France to knowing French.” Developing a business development approach that is effective, and with which you are comfortable, takes dedication in both time and attention. Adams noted that for firms looking to launch business development initiatives, it’s important to start first with those that have high potential to be open to learning and adapting new techniques.

Dudley, when asked for some simple steps attorneys can take to assist their business development efforts while “working a room,” offered sage advice: “Not all concepts need to be high-level.” Some basic, if oft overlooked, checklist items might include: wearing comfortable shoes, reading the day’s news (to be aware of current events) and emailing contacts you know who might attend an event in advance. “Introverts can become superstars if they focus in on what they want to do.”

All panelists agreed there is no straightforward and bullet-proof formula when it comes to creating and executing effective business development initiatives. Therefore, the value of being strategic about business development was heavily stressed. Dudley noted that her firm began, as Adams suggested, with high-value and a high-probability of successful attorneys, but then – understanding the macro importance – expanded the effort throughout the organization.

Perhaps the best encapsulation of results when it comes to business development came from Brown, who offered, “We celebrate ‘singles.’”

Singles become runs. When it comes to business development, it is all about the process.

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