Gary Mitchell's Biz/Dev Coaching Blog
Going beyond business development and your ability to generate work, there are a couple of considerations you should think about if you’re looking to get on or speed up the ‘Partner Track’. The first consideration is to learn how to play well with others. Here I am referring to everyone with whom you come into contact on a daily basis; your assistant, paralegals, IT professionals, receptionists, firm management, marketing, library services, etc. Go out of your way to treat these people with the utmost respect and watch how in turn they will over perform and deliver for you. You will not become successful in your career without their support. So when they go out of their way for you, acknowledge their efforts. Take them out to lunch from time to time. Ask them how they would like to contribute. Find out how you can help them achieve their career goals by first understanding what they are. Treat them as you do your clients. In other words get to know them as much as possible.
Giving back to the firm
By this I am referring to what can you do outside your practice to provide value to your firm. Consider answering these questions as a place to start:
- What committees can you be on and contribute to?
- Are their opportunities for you to mentor a summer or articling student, or even an associate more junior then you?
- What can you do outside the walls of your firm in the community to better position your firm?
Follow this advice and you are more likely to become a partner at your firm.
Recently I had a senior partner hire me to coach him. When he sent me his profile, I was a little surprised he needed help given his amazing profile. Pages of speaking engagements, tons of published articles, three text books published. So one of the first questions I asked him was “How did your practice come to this?” He told me the not-so-uncommon story of cruising along for years with a very large client that had a lot of ongoing work. So he rested on his laurels. Then one day that client vanished. Even some of his other clients have become smaller with fewer needs for his services. So here he is with one of the most impressive profiles I’ve ever seen for a lawyer in his practice area, and he very few contacts to draw from. This is another reason not to stop building relationships and growing your network of potential leads and referral sources. You never know if it will just vanish one day.
Many of you already build relationships with other lawyers as a referral source. But think about all of the other professionals that would have access to, or be in front of the people you are targeting as clients. They could be accountants, financial planners, real estate agents, contractors, hair stylists, personal fitness trainers, and so on. It will vary depending on your practice of course. Build your network with diversity. For example, build relationships with real estate agents that target different groups or geographical locations. The same goes for all of the professionals in your network.
Then be sure to reciprocate. You will build a much more loyal following by sending them referrals as well. Another reason you want to build diversity into your network, to make it easier for you to refer clients or leads back to them.
Reward the people who refer people to you with a personalized gift. It could be a gift card to their favorite restaurant, or tickets to a show or sporting event. You will stand out and they will think of you more often. Write a handwritten thank-you card to go along with your gift.