A senior partner may have told you that you will be successful by just doing good work and your satisfied clients will tell others. In 2011, do you think that just doing good work is enough?
I meet with many lawyers who are doing good work for their senior partner’s clients, but they have not gotten any traction on developing business of their own. The sad truth is that in 2011, word of mouth from doing good work does not travel fast enough or far enough.
When I started practicing law, I was told: “Selling yourself is unprofessional. If you do good work, business will follow.” That is how I started. I tried very hard to learn, become the best lawyer I could possibly be, and do the highest quality of work. I advise every young lawyer to approach their career in the same way.
I wasn’t aware at the time that there was more to client and business development than becoming a top notch lawyer and doing high quality work. I figured out I needed to focus less on what I did -litigation- and focus more on what clients need -avoiding litigation and/or resolving it promptly and economically.
I also discovered that client development is all about building relationships and understanding the client’s point of view. Each client and client representative is unique. They have unique goals, unique challenges and unique perspectives. When you build trust and rapport with your clients, you have the chance to become a “The Trusted Advisor.” (If you haven’t read Trusted Advisor, you should.)
So, here in a nutshell are my two discoveries:
- You have to do more than high quality work to develop business.
- Change your focus from you, and what you do, to focusing on your clients and what they need.