Without exception, my lawyer clients ask me how much time they should spend on business development per week. My answer is:
That depends on how fast you want to land new clients! If you are in high gear and your goal is to grow your business by 15-20% in twelve to eighteen months, you should commit to 4 hours of marketing during the work week (more if you can), I.e. 400 hours a year. If you are willing to get results more slowly, devote 2 hours a week.
Now, four sounds like a lot of hours, especially since they are non-billable. But think about it—how much hard work is your future worth? Besides, most marketing activities can be done during the morning for coffee before work, at lunch or after work for happy hour without sacrificing billable hours.
Procrastinate at your Peril!
You can take care of the marketing planning and scheduling by coming in 45 minutes earlier to work than you normally do, one or two days a week. Many of my clients prefer to do their planning in one or two blocks of time—maybe one morning by coming in early and the other day an hour or more on an afternoon each week (usually Fridays).
The marketing actions you choose should ideally take place three days a week. For example, meeting a prospect for lunch or drinks; working a room at an industry organization or happy hour; presenting at an event in front of your ideal referral sources; entertaining current and potential clients at your home and organizing a networking group of your own along with a friend whose ideal prospects are business people like the clients you invite.
Hold Your Own Feet to the Fire
The keys to success are self-discipline and accountability to yourself or to a coach. Decide what days and times you are going to plan your legal marketing activities and put those dates on the calendar just as though they are client appointments. Honor those times. Resist the urge to push aside your marketing time to later because, without establishing a marketing habit, later will never come.
If possible bolster your self-accountability by asking your legal assistant to remind you of your commitment to the appointed time.
Create a simple spreadsheet to keep track of your meetings with each prospective referral source or client. After meeting the first time, enter the prospect’s name a month out and make that date a reoccurring event on your calendar so you will be reminded when it is time to ping that person again.
What in the world do I say?
That is a question my clients frequently ask me as I am coaching them.
The answer is simple: Hi, Jim. I thought of you today and wondered how you are doing. We haven’t seen each other in a long time, and I’d like to get together. How does the week of March 6th look on your calendar? If you go to voice mail… I’ll drop you an email after this call with some ideas on where we could meet for lunch or drinks after work and give you some times that hopefully will work on my calendar. I look forward to seeing you again.
It is up to YOU!
Only you can do what it takes to be successful. Going it alone can be challenging. As a lawyer coach, I act as a strategic thought partner with my clients and help them…
- Get unstuck and out of a rut.
- Create the right strategies to use in business development.
- Write a business development plan that plays to a client’s strengths.
- Eliminate habits and thoughts that hold them back.
- Teach the marketing skills needed to be a successful rainmaker.
- Help my clients gain the self-confidence to get out and network.
The time is now to carve out the time in your day for business development. Start building a marketing habit that will lead to career success and a sense of accomplishment in your life.