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Guest Blog: Three Things I Learned About Business Development by Running a Marathon

Posted in Career Development, Client Development

Julie Ganz is a Fox Rothschild Family Law lawyer I have been coaching. She recently ran in her first marathon and I asked her to share her experience with you. I don’t think she expected any client development benefits to come from her experience, but as you will see, she learned some valuable lessons and made some valuable relationships.

In November of this year, I completed my first marathon. Crossing the finish line was the culmination of six months of training with Team in Training for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Over those six months, I learned a lot about commitment, networking and hard work that applies directly to my marketing and business development efforts.

I. RUNNING THE MARATHON IS THE EASY PART

When race day came, the hardest parts of my marathon experience were already behind me. I had already spent countless hours running hundreds of miles. I had already sent countless emails and letters raising hundreds of dollars for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

I had worked through various aches and pains, learned how to hydrate, and literally learned how to eat on the run. None of these things in isolation was difficult, but in total I had invested a lot of time and hard work in preparing for the race.

The marathon itself was nothing more than a four hour run on a beautiful Sunday morning with my friends and family cheering me on. Without the months of preparation beforehand, however, the marathon would have been impossible.

Business development is much the same. The groundwork is the hard part. Forcing yourself to spend small increments of time each day sending notes to your contacts, finding publications in which to place your most recent article, reading trade journals, and arranging business lunches is more challenging than actually signing a new client.

Maintaining the discipline to do a little bit at a time every day for months and years is hard, not because each discrete business development activity is particularly hard, but because it requires a large cumulative commitment. But new clients will be few and far between without that legwork and preparation.

II. THE PEOPLE MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE

Because I ran with Team in Training, I had the opportunity to meet an amazing group of people. The runners on my team were supportive, positive, hardworking and dedicated.

If I had a question, there was always someone on the team with an answer. If I felt bad during a run, there was always someone running next to me to urge me on. And on race day, there were hundreds of people on the course cheering for me.

During my months of training, I also encountered people who were not as supportive. Various people called me crazy for running so much, running in the rain, running in the dark, running when my legs hurt.

Lots of people pointed out that they would still be in bed on Saturday mornings while I was up before sunrise getting in a long run. I tried to enjoy the positive energy of my teammates and other supporters and ignore the not so positive comments of others.

I have found that the same thing helps me maintain momentum in my business development efforts. Keeping in contact with my referral sources who are positive, hardworking and dedicated helps me stay focused.

They remind me to keep moving forward. They are always willing to toss around ideas. Their attitude and energy often inspire me. Similarly, ignoring the naysayers is important as well.

III. DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU

I learned, from scouring the internet and asking my teammates countless questions, that what works for someone else might not work for me.

At one point during my training, my calves started to hurt. One of my teammates suggested new shoes, another suggesting massage, a third suggesting cross training. On the internet, I found a suggestion to examine my gait. Ultimately, stretching differently and more often seemed to fix the problem for me. Clearly, what worked for me was different than what had worked for my teammates.

The same principle applies in business development. In-person networking might work for one person and be completely unsuccessful for another.

Building an on-line presence might help one lawyer increase her business greatly, and do absolutely nothing for her partner.

If something doesn’t work for you, don’t waste your time on it. Spend your time, energy and money on what works. Figuring out what works takes trial and error, an open mind, and some experimentation. Once you find what works for you, stick with it.

I think we all can learn a great deal from someone who has taken on a challenge and succeeded in conquering the challenge. I am sure Julie has developed great confidence and made many life-long friends.