For those lawyers who have the fantastic existence of measuring their lives in 6-minute increments, time is extremely valuable. Attorneys, like most people, have very busy lives. There is legal work obviously, but also non-billable client demands, administrative duties, and personal lives. The most difficult thing for many lawyers is finding time for business development. Therefore, business development plans need to be created. Part of this plan, since we all must eat, is to have at least one business lunch per week.
The Business Development Lunch
Like all marketing and business development ideas, your business lunch meetings should be based upon strategy. In other words, have a plan for each person with whom you will dine. Simply inviting folks to lunch and having idle chit chat will not maximize the return on your valuable time.
Step One – make a list of the people in your network. Prioritize those who have the highest potential to give you or send you business. Or, can help your career in some other way.
Step Two – send out invites and get commitments on your calendar. If you do not calendar it, the meetings will never happen.
Step Three – write down what you want to happen as a result of your lunch meeting. Do you want to learn something new about the client’s business? Do you want to find out if the client is satisfied with your work? How can you help an accountant get more business? How did the senior partner build his practice? These are just a few examples – we can help you form a plan for each meeting.
Step Four – execute your plan at lunch. Try to keep the meeting focused. Of course, some personal chit chat will happen and that solidifies the personal relationship. However, you must spend time to achieve your goals in Step Three.
Step Five – immediately follow-up after your lunch meeting. The client expressed concern over how a new labor law will impact his business, send him some information about the new law or offer a solution. The accountant wants to meet other professionals, so make introductions. The follow-up is key.
Two Client Successes
Client #1 – Jane. Jane is a general corporate lawyer. Her clients are mostly successful family-owned businesses. She is very outgoing and likable. Jane would go to lunch almost every day with the same group of women at her law firm. We recommended that she lunch with a client once a week. She reluctantly peeled herself away from her group and started visiting clients for lunch. The goal for each meeting was to discuss the client’s business goals and needs. In the first 8 weeks of this plan, she opened more than 10 new files. Her clients were not aware that they had pressing legal needs until they met with Jane for lunch.
Client #2 – Stan. Stan is a real estate lawyer who represents developers and investors. His view was that clients contacted him only when they had problems, and he wasn’t looking to spend non-billable time with his clients. I found this mentality to be rather sad. I pushed hard for him to set up one lunch meeting with a client that he liked – just to ease his apprehension. When he called the client to make the invitation, the client asked, “are you going to bill me for your time?” This is a very true story and very telling about the relationship that Stan had with his clients. Anyway, he had the lunch (and did not bill his time), realized how painless it was, and got to know the client on a personal level. This was a huge success because Stan changed his entire mindset, built personal relationships with many of his clients, and is much happier lawyer. And, this particular client became one of his closet friends.
No Free Lunch
Gotta love Wikipedia where I found this: “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch” is a popular adage communicating the idea that it is impossible to get something for nothing. The “free lunch” in the saying refers to the nineteenth-century practice in American bars of offering a “free lunch” in order to entice drinking customers.
Maybe lunch is not free, but do all you can do get a payback for your time. Let us help you create effective business development strategies. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m out, check please!