Many Associates say, “I want to succeed and I understand the need for business development, but where do I find the time?”
Of course, you’re busy. So, too, are all Rainmakers. Like anything important, you must set aside time to do it. But how do you do that when everything is a high priority? The Rainmaker never “waits” to have the time, because that will never happen. Rainmakers know that time is not given to you—you have to take command of it.
One reason for statements like Attorney Paul Kawakami’s is the belief that when business is good and keeping you fully occupied, you’re confident, feeling successful, you have winner’s eye contact, and winner’s posture, and winner’s tone in your voice, and this confidence will be obvious to the potential clients.
Corporate management experience has proven that busy people, in many cases, are well organized and, given a high priority task, will find a way to work it in and get it done. Do you set aside time for a Managing Partner’s request? Of course you do. If you’re assigned a meeting with a VIP client of the firm, you will you find time to make it to that appointment, won’t you? So, think of your Business Development Time with the same level of priority as a meeting with a VIP client of the firm that has been assigned to you.
Time may not be the only issue holding someone back from tackling business development. Just using the word “tackling” with all its conscious and unconscious football images, pain, hard work and required physical strength could actually chip away at enthusiasm and provide unconscious support for procrastination. As individuals and managers, we need to pay close attention to how we phrase an initiative. How we “construe” the elements of a task can cause procrastination. Business development needs to be thought of as several separate, easy to accomplish tasks, with positive nomenclature attached.
Business Development Time Slots
Every week, you must set aside time for business development. However, business development might come easier to you if you simply think about your time as conducting a meeting. One option is not to put your primary attention on the necessity of business development, or any kind of quotas you might have. Rather, if you go into these weekly time slots with a genuine passion for the law and with the mindset that this is a chance to help someone and share your passion, you’re more likely to rise to the opportunity. Think about those business development “meeting” time slots as a chance to expand the universe of people who get to experience your excitement for the law.
Creating Your Business Development Time Slots
To solidify your weekly business development commitment, open your electronic calendar and pick a weekly time slot. Then hit recurrence “weekly.” Locking in a time slot for the next year is absolutely essential. Now you have 52 meetings calendared specifically for rainmaking.
How long your business development meeting time slot should last depends on how much experience you have and how daunting setting aside that time slot feels to you. One approach would be to start very, very small and build from there. Maybe, if you are feeling extremely overwhelmed by the idea of adding just one more thing, then set aside just one to five minutes for those first few scheduled business development activity meetings. Others can use the following schedule as a guideline knowing that the size of the firm will influence how soon and how often you’ll need to conduct business development activities:
First year Associates:
- If new to business development, “BD” for short, start easy with short BD activity “meetings,” just 10 minutes to build your business development muscles.
- Find a 10 minute business development time slot in next week’s calendar. (Don’t worry yet what, exactly, you’ll be doing with that time; just make sure the time is set aside. BD activity details will follow.)
- Click on “Recurrence” and click on “Every Week.”
- Every 4 weeks, add 10 minutes to meeting time
- Over time, grow business development meeting length to 45 minutes or more
Second year Associates:
- If new to business development, start out at 20 minutes per week minimum; grow to 45 minutes within 6 weeks, and then grow to 90 minutes or more.
Third year Associates:
- If new to business development, start out at 45 minutes per week; grow to 60 minutes within 8 weeks, 90 minutes within 12 weeks; then grow to 120 minutes within 24 weeks. Add more time as time goes on.
Fourth year Associates:
- If new to business development, start out at 45 minutes per week; grow to 90 minutes within 8 weeks, 120 minutes within 16 weeks. Add more time as time goes on.
Fifth year Associates and up:
- If new to business development, start out at 45 minutes per week; grow to 90 minutes within 4 weeks, 120 minutes within 8 weeks. Increase as time goes on.
About the Author: David King Keller is author of the award winning book, 100 Ways To Grow A Thriving Law Practice. His latest book, The Associate As Rainmaker, Building Your Business Brain, is on the American Bar Association’s best seller list. David is an attorney rainmaker coach, MCLE instructor and business development trainer. He has lectured at UC Hastings College of The Law and The San Francisco Bar. He is a member of ABA, BASF, AAJ and LMA. His company website, www.KBDAG.com, lists numerous client testimonials and provides many free articles, including “Social Media For Lawyers.”