The complaint I hear often from my lawyer clients is: “I just don’t have time for business development. I have too much work to do!” I reply as gently as possible, “Your pipeline is full now. Great! How much can you count on business always being this good?” Can you afford to neglect business development?
Treat Marketing Time like Client Meetings
View your marketing tasks like appointments with clients. You wouldn’t decide to keep clients waiting in the reception area until you finish the rest of your work. The only way to create a business development habit is to honor the process of getting clients as much as you honor the energy you expend keeping them.
- Designate specific days and times each week when you will do business development planning and networking.
- Calendar 30 minutes each week to decide which upcoming events would produce good networking opportunities and which connections you want to meet for lunch in the next several weeks.
- If you are swamped with billable work, come in early one day a week to knock out your marketing tasks.
- Enlist the help of your assistant to remind you to honor the marketing planning time you have calendared for yourself.
Conduct a Time Diagnosis
If you are struggling to find time for business development, perform a time diagnosis at the office. Find out where your time goes. You already record your billable hours, but what about the time you spend on non-billable’s? A time diagnosis will let you identify activities that could be eliminated in order to make time for cultivating referral sources and building relationships with decision-makers who could give you their business.
Record how you spend that non-billable time from the moment you enter the office until you leave in the afternoon. Do this in thirty minute increments on a daily basis for 1-2 weeks at least twice a year. Once you find out the superfluous ways you are spending time without making money, you know how much time you could be spending on business development.
Prune Time Wasters
Identify the time wasting activities- the unproductive demands on your time- and prune them out of your work day. Things like endless meetings, phone chatter, long lunches, reading funny emails, repeatedly checking your inbox and answering every phone call, regardless of who is calling.
Learn to Say “No”
Each time new trivia begins nibbling at your time, prune relentlessly! Eliminate outside commitments that are expendable. Prioritize all your non-work commitments and decide which ones could be eliminated so that you can devote time to marketing planning and doing. Train yourself to be confident about saying “no” to participation in outside activities that compete for your valuable time and do not qualify as priorities for you.
The Rule of Two
Stop to think and plan how to schedule your work week. Do a ten minute planning session prior to each day, either the day before or early in the morning. Identify the two most important billables for the coming day and figure out where networking and other forms of marketing can fit into your timetable.
Get Set for Tomorrow
Before leaving for the day, clear your desk. Then place in the middle of your desk whatever matters you must deal with first thing tomorrow. Then get into your business development file and choose what specific marketing task you will perform the next day that will be the most beneficial to you. By placing your priority tasks, both cases and marketing, in the middle of your desk, you will avoid mind interference when you walk into your office the next day, and you will get down to work faster.