Clients want to work with lawyers who understand their business and industry. No good lawyer walks into a courtroom or deal room unprepared. Likewise there is no excuse for failure to adequately prepare for business development. Failing to properly research and understand the Client’s business and industry undermines your credibility and limits your ability to connect with them.
To prepare for a business meeting with a Client, do your homework. Read everything you can about the company and the individuals you are going to meet with - news and business information, company financials, industry information. Set up Google Alert to automatically notify you of important information and things being written about them on the Web. Don't forget social media and networking sites such as LinkedIn. Reach out to your firm's marketing department if you need help.
You should also make it a habit to Read what the Client reads - and try to think like the Client when you do. What does all of this mean for them? How will it affect them personally and professionally? The goal of the research is to help you to prepare and ask a series of targeted questions to assess the potential Client's needs. You must understand those needs before you can create solutions that the Client will find valuable - and ultimately get hired.