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LegalJob’s guest blogger, Katie White, talked with several rainmakers at big firms about building business.  This post summarizes those discussions.  Katie is a career consultant and networking coach at The George Washington University Law School.

I have lots of friends who are not clients, but all of my clients are friends.”  — Big firm partner

According to top rainmakers interviewed, the secret to developing business is building long term relationships.  To develop business you must first build and then nurture relationships with your peers and with contacts inside of the client organizations you are servicing.

Below is their specific guidance for developing business:

Inside the firm

► Invest in yourself by spending time on business development and making it a priority.

● Write articles (perhaps with senior partners as co-authors)

● Volunteer to help prepare for client pitches

● Participate in client meetings (and spend the appropriate amount of time listening and learning).

 

Outside the firm

► Stay in touch with law school and college classmates and colleagues at your law firm who leave to go to other firms or to in-house or government positions.

► Regularly attend conferences, bar association meetings, community group activities, sports activities and events where potential clients will be.

► Develop a system to track your contacts and the frequency of your outreach and communicate regularly.

 

Extra steps for network building

► Keep regular track of the career aspirations and job searches of in-house counsel you know.   If you help place these people, they are likely to reciprocate by hiring your law firm to service their new corporation.

► Look for opportunities to facilitate connections between your contacts and clients.   You may be able to introduce your clients to your contacts which can produce successful business partnerships.  The pay off is that these contacts are loyal to you, and additional business for the law firm potentially flows from this relationship (assuming you can manage possible conflict issues).

► Both of the above examples (keeping track of career aspirations of others and connecting potential business partners) requires the following mindset: Approach all your relationships in this way – think about what you can do for your colleagues.  Not what they can do for you.  How can you solve their problems and add value?

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