Gary Mitchell's Biz/Dev Coaching Blog
Wow. I am just off the phone conducting the last session with a client I’ve worked with for the past year. She was so thankful for our work together and appreciative of her transformation. I can’t say enough about her. She was like a sponge soaking it all up. She did the work, and now she has tons of results to point to. It is a pleasure working with other professionals who value the coach/client relationship.
I have the pleasure of working with a law clerk in Toronto. Up until her, in the legal industry my clients have been strictly lawyers. But why not have a law clerk engaged in business development? She knows everything about the clients because she has direct and on-going access to them from start to finish. And so, she makes a great representative of the firm. Kudos to her managing partner for investing in her and his firm this way. She is one of the most eager and hard working clients I have had in the eight years of coaching. She is also very well aware how fortunate she is to have her managing parter invest in her success. There is no doubt she is developing into a great legal marketer.
Just started with another new client. She spent the first part of the call telling me what she didn’t want for her firm and practice. This lead us to determining what she did want. And it doesn’t look anything like the traditional law firm model. It doesn’t have to. More and more law firms are looking to break the mold and create something new, innovative, inclusive, and flexible. Yes I said law firm and flexible in the same sentence.
Yesterday in coaching a group of associates, once again the issue of time came up. When and how do I make time for my business development is an age old question. In our brainstorming session, one tax associate came up with his own answer. He said “I don’t do anything unless it pops up in my outlook”. Well then, make the appointment with yourself using your outlook calendar. Sometimes it’s the simplest approach that works best. And it’s really about self-discipline.
Yes, that’s right. You read the title correctly. Just say no to coaching and watch your career tank. I left the last part out to catch your attention.
I always conduct interviews before taking on new clients. While interviewing one associate recently, it became blatantly obvious he was not an ideal candidate for coaching. He was very negative about his firm, the marketing direction they were taking, and their recent brand launch. (Like he is an expert in marketing?)
I could hardly sit through the interview. I couldn’t believe my ears. His partners had spoken highly of him and his ability. They wanted to provide him some individual support to help bolster his career, and this was his attitude? He actually told his firm he was too busy to engage in business development coaching. What? That’s like telling your firm, “I don’t really care about the direction of my career”. “I am not really sure I want to stay here”. “I don’t have time to develop my skills.” I could go on.
The flip side of this comes from a typical client. In our final coaching session audit of the program, he told me that initially he had been extremely sceptical about coaching, but he was mindful of saying no to his firm. It’s OK to be sceptical. You are lawyers after-all, being sceptical is part of your DNA. He went on to work with us and thrived in our program. Soon after he was asked to join full partnership. He thanked me for helping him achieve partnership so quickly.
Just say no to coaching and watch your career tank. When your firm is committed to your success and willing to invest in it, it’s not wise to say no, unless you are looking for a new career.
As you become more effective and successful at bringing in business, do yourself a favor and record your wins. Keep a ‘success diary’ of all your successful business development efforts. You can refer back to it from time to time to remind yourself what you did right. And, keeping track or measuring your success will serve you well if you are approaching partnership and also when it’s time to talk about compensation.
I am working with a client who is nearing the end of our six month program. For the past few calls we have been working on managing the growth of his practice. You have likely heard the expression, “Dress for where you want to be, not where you are.” The same can be said about your practice. Act where you want to be, not where you are.
This of course refers to changing the way you manage your practice as you grow. It involves changing your behavior. It means more delegating, becoming more selective in the files you take on, grooming the juniors to handle more of your work and building your team. This client gets it. He can see this is the only way forward to reach his goals.
On a call with a client yesterday and he is at the stage now where he must start to delegate more. He has become very successful at bringing in new clients and work. He finds himself at capacity. The first thing I recommended he do was to think about which files he could delegate to other lawyers. Now that he has created some momentum with his business development efforts, the worst thing he could do is stop. A lot of the smaller files are not supporting his goals. By dropping a couple of them and focusing on his business development, he is more likely to reach his goals sooner.
It’s time to put aside the ‘lawyer’ hat and put on the ‘business’ hat. At this stage you must become very strategic and selective of the work you take on. With growth come new challenges. And these are exactly the types of challenges you want.
The more you can say in the least amount of time, the better. Do you often feel the need to fill silence? Silence can be very powerful. Whether you are in a meeting or giving a presentation, silence allows the people you are communicating with to absorb what you are saying.
The next time you are communicating, email, phone, in a meeting, networking, or giving a presentation, try being a brief as possible. Try using less words to say more. Keep your sentences short. Pause more between sentences. Look for more powerful words to use. And if you have a certain amount of time allotted to you, don’t be afraid of using less.
After giving my standard advice on what and how to prepare for a networking opportunity, today, one of my clients taught me something. I think it’s brilliant, so I want to share it with you.
This particular event was a ‘meet and greet’ with another law firm.
This is what he did.
He went to the website of that firm and identified the lawyers he wanted to meet (as per my standard advice). Then he took my advice to the next level. He emailed the profiles and pictures of those lawyers to himself. During the event, he went to his blackberry to reference who he was to target. Then he met exactly who he was targeting.
On the way home from the event, he sent follow-up emails to the people he met, (also as per my standard advice).
Result: A lunch meeting between the two firms to see how they can do business together.
Before, during and after, Blackberry and networking.
Whether it’s another law firm or not, this is a great way to set yourself up for success when meeting new contacts.
Thank you to a partner in Toronto for this.