This week I will make a presentation at the American Bar Association Forum on the Construction Industry Annual Meeting. My Topic: Professionalism and Client Development for Construction Lawyers – Old Tools/New Tools.

As I prepared, I thought about how fortunate I was to  narrow my client development focus long ago.

If you are a regular reader, you likely recall me saying:

When you try to market your services to everyone you usually end up marketing to no one.

I know because when I started my client development efforts, I could not figure out how to market a “general commercial litigation practice.” I tried many cases and enjoyed that opportunity, but I couldn’t figure out how to strategically use my client development time.

I joined the Rotary Club, I was active in our church and active in the Virginia Tech Hokie Club and Alumni Association. I went to lunch every day at the Shenandoah Club where Roanoke’s top business people gathered.

I was told to just stick with it and I would eventually break through. I did stick with it, but I  do not remember ever attracting a new client from my flurry of non-strategic activities.

After a few very frustrating years, I decided to focus my efforts on the construction industry, and within a year I narrowed that focus to transportation construction contractors.

Bridge Under Construction

Here is what I learned and can share with you: When you focus your client development efforts within an industry, you build relationships more easily and efficiently. You see the same people at your industry’s annual meetings. You write columns for industry magazines that those same people read. You speak at industry conferences to the same people.

One final thing: If your experience is anything like mine, you will look forward to the opportunities to engage potential clients and referral sources at the next event and you will make friends for life.