Let’s face it when you’re doing business development, your success will come down to luck, the luck of who you meet, when you meet them and who else these people know. With that in mind how can you get luckier with business development?
Here are 2 tips that will make sure you get luckier when you’re doing BD.
1. Practice will make you luckier with business development
There is a quote we all know that’s been attributed to so many sportspeople I now have no idea which actually said it! It is “the more I practice, the luckier I get” and it is equally applicable to business development.
I was talking to a patent attorney the other day who asked me if they should continue with a certain networking group. She knew that given the demographic and composition of the group, she almost certainly wouldn’t win any work. On the other hand, she really enjoyed it.
My suggestion was definitely carry on. Ignore the fact you won’t win work but think about it as practice; practicing meeting new people and practicing your small talk when you do.
Small talk is essential to good BD. However, it’s a skill most of us aren’t born with so any (low pressure) situation to practice is good. Just as you wouldn’t run your first 10k without building up your distance over time, you shouldn’t be going into the most “target rich environments” (c/o Peter Finnie via Maverick from Top Gun) without having practiced going up and chatting to new people.
The low pressure angle is vital to this.
I have long been an advocate of encouraging junior fee earners – even at trainee level – to go to junior events (and preferably those based around activities rather than open rooms) from the earliest opportunity. Again, it’s about getting into good habits and practicing your small talk and – of course – your follow up.
2. The law of luck according to Robert Evans
While practice is a BD must, so is focus.
I was watching a documentary recently about the film producer and former head of Paramount, Robert Evans. His story actually ended up in a right mess of drug and murder allegations not to mention serious mental health issues but before that The Godfather, Rosemary’s Baby, Chinatown, Love Story and many other blockbusters were on his list of credits.
That aside, he said he felt luck was actually “opportunities plus preparation”. I thought that’s brilliant!
If you know where your targets gather, what your clients read, which websites your clients rely on and what your clients are searching for on Google, you will be far more likely to put yourself in a position to create opportunities by doing the BD activities you are most comfortable with and best suited to.
Then, if you are prepared to say the right things when you find these opportunities, you will be more likely to convert these opportunities into work.
This preparation could involve:
– Staying up to date with your clients’ and contacts’ latest news so you always have a reason to contact them, catch up and ask for more details.
– Finding out who’s going to an event before you get there so you know a little bit about the people you really want to talk to and what they’re up to.
– Researching the current search terms your targets are using so your blog posts appear at the top of the search engine rankings and, by extension, more likely to yield new enquiries.
– Identifying and contacting the editors of the publications/websites your clients and targets read so you can volunteer to write something they need to know from your professional perspective.
When you think about it, opportunity plus preparation really is luck. As soon as he said it, I could immediately see this formula is what will make you luckier with business development.