While it’s easy to portray business development as a battle – with the Clients as targets to be won over and your competition as the enemy standing in the way, this is a simplistic outlook. In reality, sometimes the enemy is us. We let our own issues or shortcomings limit our business development potential.
For instance, we may make excuses for not committing the necessary time to developing business. We tell ourselves we are just too busy. Well guess what: while you are busy being busy, there are plenty of other attorneys out there who will commit the time and do the work instead of making excuses – and they are likely talking to your Clients.
Additionally, some of us may feel uncomfortable in social situations. We would really rather not have to go to that networking event, conference or cocktail party. Frankly, I know very few people who relish this. But sometimes you have to just suck it up and remember that everything you want is just outside your comfort zone. Make the effort to meet new people and you will almost always be rewarded.
Then there are some of us lawyers who can be overly critical (shocking, I know)… critical of others or even of ourselves or our own abilities. Rather than being open to new things, we reject them out of hand to avoid mistakes or embarrassment. But to be successful at business development, you can't be afraid to try new things and make a few mistakes. In the long run, they will make you a better business developer - and a better person.
Others of us may be perfectionists. While this can be a beneficial trait for practicing law, this tendency can actually get you in trouble in business development. I have seen so many business development plans that are beautifully prepared, bound in fancy notebooks… and gathering dust on the shelf. The goal of business development is not to wait to make a move until you are fully prepared for every contingency – which is impossible anyway. You would be much better served to focus on the execution. Do something. At a minimum, do more than you are doing now. If you don't fight you can't win.