Law firms (and law schools) woefully underprepare attorneys on the craft of business development. Adopting a few good habits now can pave the way for a successful future.
Form real connections
Lasting relationships with clients form when you advance their agenda. Make the connection real—if you read about a relevant ruling or other matter, apprise them of the topic. If you took an interesting CLE class, let them know about it. Not everything has to be monumental in nature—it could be a new business trend, a recruiting practice, or even a task management tip that helps the client. Just personalize the email, summarize your takeaway, and link to the relevant article.
Stay connected with the help of LinkedIn
LinkedIn allows for lazy but productive business development. You can passively keep in touch with existing clients and classmates and let the software do the work. If something new happens to your relationships—a move to an in-house counsel position, a promotion—LinkedIn will notify you. Keep your eyes open and be sure to act (send congratulatory messages or just a quick hello) when you see something about a contact on LinkedIn.
Be aware of what should keep your client awake
The best lawyers are good businesspeople. Is your client a target to be acquired? Are they chronic underperformers relative to their peers? Easy-to-use tools on Yahoo! Finance or E*Trade can keep you up-to-date on these topics. Set a Google Alert for news regarding your client’s firm. Information offers influence, especially knowledge of business forces that may affect your client.
This article originally appeared in the Young Lawyers Division publication TYL. For more TYL articles and world-class resources for young lawyers, visit the ABA Young Lawyers Division page on the main ABA website.